How long, Lord?

How long, Lord?

But God opens his hand

Psalm 145:15 The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it. When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.

Psalm 130:5 I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word.

What a delight to care for my two-month-old granddaughter Juliana yesterday, satisfying her hunger with the milk my daughter had left for her.

I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for little JuJu’s health. I couldn’t help flashing back to Karis at that age, in the hospital and unable to swallow without bilious vomiting even one teaspoon slow drip over an hour.

And I started thinking about all the ways God fed Karis despite her dysfunctional intestines. Had she been born even a few years earlier, TPN (elemental nutrition administered directly into the veins) would not have been available for her. She was the first baby to survive infancy with her condition, thanks to TPN and to God’s dramatic intervention when the doctors asked us to remove life support and let her go, and instead her intestine inexplicably started functioning for the first time.

After that, for a while, she was able to nurse. When her intestines shut down again, she had a combination of TPN and pregestimil, administered half-strength slow drip through a kangaroo pump. (At other times in her life she actually drank that horrible stuff.) There were long periods when the only foods she tolerated were yogurt and boiled chicken breast. She had her own special “yogurt spoon.”

There were periods when she could eat a variety of foods, but that could morph in a matter of minutes into painful, life-threatening bowel obstructions and dehydration. We tried all kinds of combinations and concoctions. When she lost too much weight, the docs would put her back on TPN, which led to its own complications and scary line infections.

One day in Brazil when Karis was in high school, struggling to live a version of “normal life,” I carried my Bible into her bedroom open to Psalm 145 and told her God had spoken to me very directly through one verse; could she guess which it was?

She glanced at the page to see which psalm I was showing her and said, “Verse 15, right, Mom? Don’t I keep telling you to stop worrying about me? But Mom, what about all the children who starve, not because they can’t eat, like me, but because they simply don’t have food to eat? How does this verse apply to them?”

Her eyes filled with tears. “Mom, I wish I could use the money our insurance is spending to keep me alive to feed the children who don’t have food. Why can’t I, Mom? The world is totally out of whack, with so many resources invested in me and so few in them. It’s not right. What can I do? How can God bear it? How can we make the world a more equitable place?”

By now Karis was sobbing, and I with her. I still don’t know the answers to her questions. We have so much. Others have so little.

Remembering all this today, I think of God’s promise that the time will come when there is no more hunger and thirst. For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes (Revelation 7:16-17). How long, Lord? How long?

As this season focuses our attention on the Source of our hope, God himself become a helpless, hungry infant, savor this beautiful reflection by Luci Shaw, “Mary’s Song” (thanks, Shari!):

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast

keep warm this small hot naked star

fallen to my arms. (Rest . . .

you who have had so far

to come.) Now nearness satisfies

the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies

whose vigor hurled

a universe. He sleeps

whose eyelids have not closed before.

His breath (so slight it seems

no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps

to sprout a world.

Charmed by doves’ voices, the whisper of straw,

he dreams,

hearing no music from other spheres.

Breath, mouth, ears, eyes

he is curtailed

who overflowed all skies,

all years.

Older than eternity, now he

is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed

to my poor planet, caught that I might be free,

blind in my womb to know my darkness ended,

brought to this birth

for me to be new-born,

and for him to see me mended

I must see him torn.

Waiting for Baby Jesus … beautiful creche fashioned from cardboard boxes, tape, and paint by our friend Lineth.

But God will cover us with his feathers, by Barbara Alexander, Villers St Paul, France

Psalm 91:4, 14 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge … The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.

One day recently, during my early morning quiet time, I came upon Psalm 91:4.

Having gone through (and continuing to go through) difficult times (health issues) over the past 20 years, the image of me being covered with God’s “feathers”, and being sheltered under His wings, was of immense comfort to my soul and spirit.  After all, is He not the Infinite God – without measure, without boundaries?  How awesome His feathers!!

And when I contemplate His limitlessness, an illustration always helps me keep a more proper perspective:

Suppose I were to walk out my front door, and walk in a straight line, over buildings, in the air.  And suppose I were to keep on “walking”, over mountains, countries, oceans, and out into space, never stopping, always moving, past stars and galaxies, swirling masses of celestial bodies.   If I could do that, and NEVER stop, just keep on going, going, going – I would never get to the end of God – NEVER!  And, no matter what direction I took, – north, south, east, west – the result would still be the same: He is out there, limitless, infinite, and WAY beyond the capacity of my feeble brain to imagine!

That said, as I took the dog out for our daily “promenade” that Psalm 91:4 morning, I paused for a moment on the sidewalk.  I live in a small town in France, about 30 minutes’ drive north of Paris.  In town, the buildings/houses/fences front the sidewalk – there is no grass between the tar of the sidewalk and the walls.  Most often I find myself on a sidewalk on these outings, and that morning was no exception.

So as I paused on that morning’s walk, I was beside a building, but no eaves hung over my head.  The sky was pretty clear as I recall, blue above me with a few clouds. Usually I keep on moving when I’m out with my dog Fifi – after all, that’s the purpose of this little jaunt, to get her out so she does her stuff.  But that particular morning I guess neither of us was in a hurry, so I found myself standing still for a moment.  

All of a sudden I noticed something in my field of vision in front of me – above me – something small and white, floating lazily down, in a zig-zag fashion, floating, gently falling, slowly, softly descending to the ground. I realized it was a little feather, an inch and a quarter long, probably from a pigeon, as there are quite a few of those around, especially on the roof of the large 12th-century stone church in the center of town, close to my home.  But there were no pigeons above me as I stood there out on the sidewalk – just open sky above my head.  

Shutterstock: Siwakorn1933

So where did that feather come from?

I reached down to pick it up, noting the perfect symmetry like a leaf, the soft whiteness, the fluffy curl of the “branches.” And there, in the bright, quiet morning, it seemed God was speaking to my heart: “Yes, My child, I am covering you with My feathers – feathers of love, feathers of protection, feathers of peace.  You are in My infinite care, and always will be.  Rest, My child, REST there, and know that My Infinite care of you cannot be surpassed.  I am your Sovereign protection, over every cell of your body, every heartbeat, every breath. Rest, My child, REST.”

Needless to say, I put the feather in my pocket, took it home, and mounted it on a card, whereupon I wrote Psalm 91:4, and placed it where I would see it often.  And when I see it, the truth it represents continues to comfort and calm my soul and spirit, and remind me Who is in COMPLETE control of everything that touches my little life here on this planet Earth, which is but a pinpoint in our galaxy, which is but a pinpoint in the universe, which is totally contained by the Sovereign Lord of the universe.

So, what exactly was I worrying about just now??? :):):)