Wrapped in the Arms of God
May 19, 2019 06:40AM
By Bonnie Lyn Smith
A good friend of mine asked me to set aside some time as we prepared for an event together so that my teen daughter and I could see what she had “been up to” over the past few months. To my great surprise, she had made a beautiful quilt in all of my daughter’s favorite colors. It was exquisite! I have no talent for even sewing a button on a shirt, so her craftsmanship amazed me. My daughter was speechless.
While I have referenced it in columns before, my daughter’s health battle has been mostly a quiet one. Several health systems are in disrepair, and until we found solutions and started her on several protocols, she had no energy in her body to function mentally, spiritually, emotionally, or physically.
Not many 16 year olds tell that story to their peers. It has been a quiet struggle in her world for almost two years from the start of its progression. We are still fighting it.
And when I saw that my sweet friend had taken the time to create a full-length quilt to wrap around my daughter on her hardest days when she has side effects from her treatment, I felt God hugging me—I’m not kidding—and wrapping His amazing arms around my daughter. She is very tactile and loves acts of service like that. God knew that was her love language.
The whole experience of receiving that gift was precious, but then came the very best part:
My friend flipped the quilt over to show us the cross.
Yes, my daughter would be encased each day in the body-sized cross touching her from arm to arm.
Did you know that Jesus did this for you, too?
Maybe you are not sure about that or you don’t really “feel” it right now. Let me offer you some examples of what I mean by this.
1. His arms are forgiving.
Luke 15:20, ESV
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
This reference is to the story of the Prodigal Son in the Bible. The father, having forgiven the son’s waywardness, without question or conditions, welcomes him home with an embrace. This parable is a picture of our Heavenly Father. He receives us in the same way when we come to (or come back to) Him.
2. His arms are eternal, safe, and to be trusted. He doesn’t let go.
John 6:37, ESV
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
How many people in our lives, well-intended though they may be, send us packing when the relationship or our own personal trials become too difficult? I confess I have massive abandonment issues. But my God doesn’t. He has never kicked me to the curb. He promises I am never cast out. No matter how ugly my behavior or my personal darkness becomes, He consistently wants to restore me. Once I’ve received Him as my Savior, I may wander from Him from time to time, but He does not let go of me. You can bank on that.
Deuteronomy 33:27-29, ESV
"The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he thrust out the enemy before you and said, 'Destroy.' So Israel lived in safety, Jacob lived alone, in a land of grain and wine, whose heavens drop down dew. Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs."
When I reference God as being trustworthy and safe, this is my favorite verse to convey the image of living in Him. Some days are so hard that I love picturing that I am underneath His everlasting arms. He is indeed our dwelling place.
He says this of us: Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD!
But He defines it further, that He is the shield of our help, the sword of our triumph!
This is the all-encompassing love that strengthens us to defeat the darkness!
3. His arms are both mighty and strong, and gentle as the shepherd.
Isaiah 40:10-11, ESV
Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
In Isaiah, we see that God is mighty. His very arm is described in a position of authority or rule. And yet, Isaiah also says that He is the gentle shepherd who gathers His lambs in His arms. Did you catch the last line about protecting the pregnant lambs? The image there is powerful of a mighty God restraining His might to care for those who are weak or at risk. He doesn’t abandon His sheep. In fact, in the Gospels, we hear how the Good Shepherd leaves the 99 sheep and goes back for the one lamb that is missing. That is us!
His arms will not hurt us, but they are strong to protect and care for us.
Are there any other arms you’d rather be in? Not me. Those are the ones I keep wrapping myself in.
4. His arms bring us rest from our soul battle. We can lay our burden down.
Matthew 11:28-30, ESV
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Life is exhausting. We have to fight the darkness within ourselves and all around us. But Jesus says to come to Him, and when we do, we receive rest. He advocates for us and fights the battles we carry around when we put our trust in Him.
5. His arms welcome us when we receive Him as a child.
Mark 9:36-37, ESV
And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me."
We never need to doubt Jesus’s arms are open wide to us. Continuing the concept of the lambs, we are like children who come to Him with trusting hearts. We cast off how the world jades us and replace it with childlike trust in a faithful God. Jesus chose the children to show us how welcomed we were by His love. He knew that in order to realize we needed a holy Father, we had to be received in our most childlike state. Whether we are 5 or 85 years old, we can all relate to needing a parent’s embrace for reassurance.
So, what about you?
If God feels like a distant concept right now, perhaps you can pray that these verses come alive in your life—that He grants you the ability to see how massive His love is. I assure you that His heart’s desire is to wrap you and your life in His mighty, strong, gentle, protective, sustaining, and very capable arms.
May the peace of God reign in your heart. May you envision His perfect peace, bought by His death for you and me on that cross and accomplished by His resurrection, enfolding you like a warm quilt on a healing heart.
And most importantly, may you respond to it like a child climbing onto his or her Father’s lap, accepted, loved, tended to, and fully received.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
She is the author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day and the founder and editor-in-chief of Ground Truth Press, a book publishing company.
A new rabbit breeder, she can also be found @thegivingrabbitry on Instagram.