Rejected and Dejected

One of the hardest parts of parenting is wanting good things for your children that they stubbornly resist. From that first turning of the head against a spoonful of mashed peas to the more serious things of setting ground rules regarding sex, cars, phone use, social media, and drugs, it is a struggle. Parents are often left with an empty feeling that no matter how hard they tried or how much they longed to protect their children, sometimes those efforts are ignored and rejected. Raising children can be filled with unexpected heart ache. Their minds and hearts can turn to stone in their resolve to do things their own way, and it is gut wrenching to watch them have to pay the consequences for their choices and behaviors. Parenting is surely not for sissies!

     Jesus must have felt that way about the stubbornness and rejection he received from his beloved Jerusalem. How often he wanted to snatch them up and shelter them in the safety of his wings, like a mother hen does with her chicks. Their refusal to receive him was heartbreaking for him. 

Matthew 23:37-38

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You who kill the prophets and stone those who were sent to you. How often I wanted to gather your people together, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you didn’t want that. 38 Look, your house is left to you deserted.

     Scripture only mentions Jesus crying two times. Once was at the death of Lazarus, as he experienced the extreme grief of sisters Mary and Martha and felt their sorrow over his friend’s death. The other was in this moment as he looked over his beloved city Jerusalem and saw the impending destruction that would result from their rejection of him (see Luke 19:41).

     Have you ever loved someone so hard that their rejection caused you physical pain? I have a friend whose daughter was a homeless heroin addict for five years. Every day was a battle of trying to keep her mind from worrying about her daughter and giving control over to God. In the end, her daughter recovered, but the mother still wears the scars of love from that terrible time.

     Jesus’ grief is a good reminder to us that he deeply loved even those whom he rebuked. The Scriptures prior to these two verses outline his case against the Pharisees and his accusations about their sinful behavior. But even still, he loved them enough to weep over them and want to shelter and protect them.

     Jesus feels the same way about you and me. He wants to gather us up and take care of us. He wants to keep us from the harm of our own decisions and actions. He wants to fend off adversaries and help us to thrive and grow. He wants to mother us.     

Are you stubbornly refusing his love? This grieves him, yet he loves you still. It is never too late to come under his wings. There you will find security and hope.

The Shelter of His Wings by Michelle Robertson

You’re My Only Hope

The scene is so iconic, you don’t even need to be a Star Wars fan to recognize it. It is a favorite meme and GIF even for those who have never seen the movie. In the 1977 movie “Star Wars,” the evil Empire attacked the planet Alderaan, and Princess Leia Organa of the Resistance sends a holographic message to General Obi-Wan Kenobi via a droid named R2-D2. Darth Vader has captured her ship and the situation is dire. “Help me, Obi-Wan. You’re my only hope” is the message. Have you ever felt that hopeless? Have you ever been someone’s only hope?

In the first three verses of Psalm 57, David made the same plea. He fled to the safety of a cave with insane Saul in hot pursuit. Saul was trying to kill him, and David was literally running for his life. We can hear his anxiety when he repeated himself in verse 1: “Have mercy on me God; have mercy on me.” He had already survived several attempts on his life and now found himself alone, discouraged, and fearful.

Psalm 57 (Common English Bible)

For the music leader. Do not destroy. A miktam of David, when he fled from Saul into the cave.

57 Have mercy on me, God;
    have mercy on me
    because I have taken refuge in you.
    I take refuge
    in the shadow of your wings
        until destruction passes by.
I call out to God Most High—
    to God, who comes through for me.
He sends orders from heaven and saves me,
    rebukes the one who tramples me. Selah
        God sends his loyal love and faithfulness.

Yet even in this dangerous situation, David identified himself as a beloved son of God. His cry for mercy was made with full assurance that God not only heard him but would intervene. David didn’t come from a position of childish entitlement, but rather one of trust. David understood that he didn’t deserve mercy, but that God’s grace offered it, and so he placed himself in the shadow of God’s wings.

 This beautiful word picture evokes an image of a mother bird completely encasing her young in her wings to protect them from predators, the elements, and any potential danger. Jesus used this same image when he described his love for Jerusalem in Matthew: “How often I wanted to gather your people together, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” (Matthew 23:37b, Common English Bible.)

It is interesting to note that even as David was in the relative safety of a cave, he acknowledged that God was his only place of true refuge. This is an important lesson for us today.

Have you ever felt the need to be protected by a merciful and mighty God in such a way? Have fear and anxiety overtaken you? When illness, disaster, disappointment, and other fearful things come into our lives, it is good to know that God spreads wide open the wings of refuge and help for everyone.

 Do you need that shelter today? Is God calling you to be somebody’s last hope? We can always flee to the refuge that is our almighty God and know that under those strong wings, we will be safe.

Refuge by Kathy Schumacher

The Shadow of God’s Wings

The noise inside the car seemed unusually loud as we traveled to a football game last week. I am very sensitive to the whining, whistling, windy car noise when we drive, but this was noticeably not right. About 30 minutes into the trip it suddenly went from annoying to Tsunami level. Something was terribly wrong. As the noise reached deafening decibels, another sound began. Thump. THUMP. THUMP!!! I looked up and discovered that something had gone very wrong with the sunroof housing. We quickly found a safe place to pull over as the banging continued. A large plexiglass air scoop in the front of the sunroof had broken away and had cracked in half. The plexiglass piece went flying in the wind, still attached to the piece of rubber seal that had pulled out of its groove, and then it broke into four pieces as it slammed into the roof. Somehow the pieces miraculously stayed attached to the rubber strip which was still half attached to the window housing. Those four pieces would have probably done some damage had they flown off and hit the cars behind us. Instead, they flew above the car, attached to the torn seal like flags on a sailboat jib. Thankfully we were safe, our fellow travelers were safe, the car was still drivable, and after my blood pressure returned to normal, we continued on our way.

On the way home from the game, we sat in two hours of stand-still traffic. A multi-car accident had stopped traffic, and there were injuries. Twelve emergency vehicles passed us as we sat. My heart goes out to those people and their families.

We never know what the day has in store for us. We don’t get up in the morning and think that this might be the day that we say goodbye to the things and people we love. Days like that remind me to always be aware of my many blessings, and to not take a single moment of this life for granted.

But it’s easy to take our lives for granted, isn’t it? We just go through the routines and demands of life without pausing to count our blessings. We let work, family life, responsibilities, planning, living, and mundane moments lead us through our day until thump, thump, thump, something is suddenly wrong.

Our Psalm today is a timely reminder of God’s constant presence in life, in death, and in life beyond death:

Psalm 36

But your loyal love, Lord, extends to the skies;
    your faithfulness reaches the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the strongest mountains;
    your justice is like the deepest sea.
        Lord, you save both humans and animals.
Your faithful love is priceless, God!
    Humanity finds refuge in the shadow of your wings.

We experienced refuge in the shadow of God’s wings that day. Others on the road were not as fortunate. This road is notorious for speeders and tailgaters, and there are consequences to reckless behavior. I don’t know why some are spared and others are not. But I do know that when the unexpected, the startling, and even the unthinkable things happen, God is with us.

We miss out when we don’t take those routine, everyday, ordinary moments and feast on them. We often overlook the daily opportunity to drink from God’s river of pure joy. We let chores, duties, commuting, housework, catching up on emails … the contents of daily life … fill in the picture of our existence, and we forget to appreciate the simple joy of living until we have a scary moment when life suddenly reveals its precarious nature.
They feast on the bounty of your house;
    you let them drink from your river of pure joy.
Within you is the spring of life.
    In your light, we see light.

1Extend your faithful love to those who know you;
    extend your righteousness to those whose heart is right.

In God’s light, we see light. Take some time today to stop and look up from your routine. Life indeed is precarious … and precious, too.

In Your Light by Bonnie Bennett