A few days ago I walked in our woods looking for my deer friends. They don’t think of me as their friend so it’s clearly a one-sided struggle to find them. Leaves crunched loudly under my bare feet. A squirrel hurled acorn bombs and screeched from the branches above. I didn’t see the deer (the picture above is from another morning when for some reason they humored my attempts to capture their photo) but the walk was perfect.
A leaf twirled in front of me suspended by a cobweb. On its way to the ground it had been caught by one single string and twirled there between heaven and earth.
How long is God’s arm? Can he catch a leaf as it plummets towards earth? Can he save me, and you, from the awful challenges we sometimes face? Of course he can. But what if he doesn’t spare us from pain on this earth?
My mom gave me a book by Elisabeth Elliott titled, “Keep a Quiet Heart” (Revell, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1995). Today’s reading was titled “How Long is God’s Arm?” She writes on page 55, “How do we reconcile God’s promises for protection with the fact that so many evil things happen in our lives? Can we believe God for protection?”
Can we believe Him when we’re holding on by a string?
Here is more from Elliott’s writing: “We must be careful to interpret Scripture with Scripture, and if we examine the record we find that God did not by any means always protect His people from harm. He has absolute power to keep us safe, both physically and spiritually, but His engineering of the universe made room for man’s freedom to choose – that is, freedom to will to obey or to disobey Him. This is a deep mystery. Man’s disobedience brought evil into the world, and all of us are subject to it. God does not cancel out its effects, even for His choicest servants (John the Baptist, Stephen, those nameless victims of Hebrews 11:35-57, for example). Nevertheless, we have the promises. Romans 8:35-39 is one of my most reread passages. I believe we can rest assured that we are invulnerable so long as God does not give permission for us to be hurt. If He gives that permission, He will not leave us alone. He goes with us through the valley, the deep water, the furnace. He will never, absolutely never, leave us or forsake us.”
The leaf was in a desperate and lonely spot for certain. But there was beauty in its predicament. A story to tell. There is beauty in your challenges, and mine, too. Jesus’ great love and strong arms keep us safely and securely in place.
Hang in there, friend. God is going to do something beautiful.