Feb. 8, 2005


The Everlasting Arms

Jeremiah 15:15-21 (NRSV)
O LORD, you know; remember me and visit me, and bring down retribution for me on my persecutors. In your forbearance do not take me away; know that on your account I suffer insult. Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts. I did not sit in the company of merrymakers, nor did I rejoice; under the weight of your hand I sat alone, for you had filled me with indignation. Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail.

Therefore thus says the LORD: If you turn back, I will take you back, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall serve as my mouth. It is they who will turn to you, not you who will turn to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, says the LORD. I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.

The LORD says, "I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless."
-Jeremiah 15:21 (NRSV)

SOMETIMES in the midst of many activities, a quietness settles down into me. I feel at peace and totally secure -- like the lost sheep must have felt in the arms of the good shepherd. (See Luke 15:3-7 and John 10:11.)

But most of each day is filled with duties and distractions. Hurry, clutter, and emotions poorly expressed or unexpressed cloud my awareness of God. I slip into the "wrong plan": I pray when I should act, or I act when I should pray; I discard a perfectly good plan or I keep a worthless one, wasting my time and vitality.

At such times I might give up, except that the Bible teaches me to trust. Words like the ones God spoke to Jeremiah are a great comfort to me. From the source of protection and nurture, the everlasting Savior, I hear, "I will deliver you." Whether or not we are aware of it, God is with us and is working on our behalf. Our security has little to do with us. We may be weak, even incompetent. Still, the matter of how we are is in God's hands: We are secure -- in the arms of the Good Shepherd.
A. Michele Leslie (Minnesota, U.S.A.)

Lord, carry us in your arms as a good shepherd carries the lost sheep. Amen.