The Protective Reach of God

Jan 30th 2010

Someone posted this video on youtube — pretty effective — made me want to go out and put on a seat belt just to feel loved.  Watch it and then I’ll tell you what came to my mind.

There have been a lot of new children added to Calvary’s family in this last year, more on the way, (in fact for those of you who have followed the Sublett Saga, Annabelle has arrived.)  So mom’s think back to your first.  You have anticipated, dreamed, attended months of huffing and puffing classes.  You’ve gazed lovingly at ultrasounds that have no shape, you’ve seen people rolling their kids in strollers at the mall and dreamed of the day when you would have one of those.  And then you go through delivery, and bring this wonderful bundle of joy home only to discover that a baby is simply an apparatus with an opening at both ends and control over neither.  Reality sets in.

But it doesn’t take long to adjust and realize that it really is true.  This child is a masterpiece of awe-inspiring value, and you will do anything you can to protect this masterpiece of creation.

Anybody remember what it used to be like to drive a car — before seat belts?  Before seat belts, you could pack eight kids into a family car, ages one week to 18 years, with no restraining thoughts or devices.  We’re more regulated today, from car seats, to lap and shoulder belts, automatic lap and shoulder belts, to airbags.  Before all these mechanical safety devices, however, some of us grew up with a different kind of child-restraint system.  Judith Viorst reminds us of this when she writes…

This year I received a Mother’s Day card that pictured a mother driving a car, her son in the passenger seat and her outstretched arm protectively flung across his chest. I’ve heard a great deal from my sons about my overprotective tendencies but I think that this card’s message said it best.  The message said, ‘To Mom, the original seat belt.’

Most of us at some time in our lives have felt the protective reach of a mother (or a father for that matter).  It starts in the womb…as a mother makes a safe space in her body for a child.  In doing so she sacrifices much; appearance, equilibrium, energy.  I talked to one mother who even gave up coffee during her pregnancy to provide a safer space!  But then after nine months, the protective reach grows outside the body.  It starts with the stair-fences, child-proofing the house, plugs in the outlets.

As the children get older…you hear, “Don’t run with that stick you might poke your eye out.  Don’t shoot those spit wads, you might poke someone else’s eye out.  Always wear clean underwear, just in case you’re in an accident.”  Then the protective reach extends to sleepless nights waiting for a son or a daughter to come home from a date. It extends to professional chauffering, praying the day never comes when he/she is allowed to drive. Finally it even extends to the wedding day, where parents do their very best to test the prospective son/daughter-in-law to be, to see how much aggravation they will put up with in order your child.

It is a natural part of being a parent, this protective reach.  If you have a parent who has in the past tried to be your protective reach.  I know, they know, we parents know that we can’t do it forever, but don’t blame us for trying.  Give us a little grace as you develop friends and family who will be your new protective reach.

But it made me think of God, my father.  How far does his protective reach — reach?  When bad things happen to good people, is it because God wasn’t there with outstretched arms?  Or was it because we didn’t buckle up?  If we don’t feel God’s protective reach around us, is it because He isn’t there, doesn’t care?  Or are there times (forget the seat belt imagery now) when God must drive us into the wilderness so that we can grow through adversity?

This weekend at Calvary we will consider a scene from Jesus life, where he heard the voice of God expressing his love for his son, and then immediately God drove Jesus into the wilderness.  (Mark 1:1-13) (Go to Calvary Media to listen next week)

It seems maybe like God loves you and has a difficult plan for your life?