Recently I went on a walk with a friend through Central Park. We talked about our lives and selves and enjoyed getting to know each other, as the friendship is new. I’ve started to realize that I have guards that I put up around people; friends that I let close get pushed right back away at the first bit of injury, new people I have on guard as well. My friend had noticed and actually thought I didn’t like her! As soon as I said it all, a question arose in my mind, “Guarding what?” I feebly explained the question aloud to my friend though the reasoning was more so for myself. “I am very sensitive and get hurt easily.” That wasn’t holding water, though; I should be pliable and open to others. I needed to turn the other cheek.
The weather was unbearably cold so we decided to run the last leg of the journey home. As we emerged from the park, I spotted a beautiful old church and asked my friend if we could go in. I was utterly drawn. It was gorgeous. As we got closer, I saw through the large glass doors a man dressed in a black suit and black sunglasses. “Talk about Men in Black!” my friend remarked. Indeed. Immediately my guard went up. As a believer I was emboldened to enter the building, but I was surprised by the amount of threat this mad standing behind the glass presented even to myself. “Why shouldn’t I enter?” I thought. I superimposed negative challenges towards the passersby upon this gentleman. “ I can go in, that’s MY GOD, He wants me there!” My mind fabricated counter-defenses for the dare-to-enter comments and glares I anticipated. Irritation began to boil over into fury as I mulled over the situation: A beautiful church—already terrifying and offensive to so many of those people on the streets—and a man, standing with his hands crossed dressed in his CIA finest making sure no one came in. “Guarding what?! That room behind you GOOD SIR houses a massive love that you cannot—and need not—protect or contain! These people should feel WELCOME!” Immediately I saw in my mind’s eye a massive rush of wind with God wrapped up in it filling the sanctuary, with arms pouring right over the shoulder of the man in black and into the streets. “Lord how you must ache for those who pass to come in. And here this man is guarding the place they should find rest.”
I suddenly ached for the passersby to go in.
Despite my running clothes and many layers and dirty hair and rough appearance (which I factored into his possible refusal of entry) I entered. Much to my relief, after avoiding eye contact but peering in and positively commenting on the café, Mr. Serious encouraged me to enter and admire the gorgeous stained glass. So I was wrong, admittedly, about his motives for both attire and stance, but the thoughts had been the slick rocks on the slope down which I slipped right into the scene from the parable of the prodigal son. When the “bad son” returned from his wild foray of squandering his inheritance and entered the gates of his father’s estate, without hesitation his dad ran and scooped him into his arms, adorning him in the finest. I had never paid much attention to the father. Dads love, well they’re supposed to, so what was the big deal? Now I knew the big deal after seeing his eagerness in rushing from those doors; His love is BIG. Really big. I now felt and understood the massive relief/jubilation/joy/gratitude/love expressed in the story.
To be loved like that must elicit such security within the object of affection.
Openness wasn’t what I needed more of; rather, I need to accept His love for me. I need to realize all He has for me. When my focus is just on what He has, the offenses and judgment and hurt from others just melts away. He wraps Himself around us and guards us in a divine bear hug—He is so much bigger and so much more able to protect us than we ever could alone. There is freedom in it—protecting myself has been exhausting.
Open arms that I can climb into whenever I want.
He is a big massive rush of windy love arms that could only result in personal security, but only IF the recipient truly receives.
Lord I need to receive Your Love. I don’t know how, really—but I trust that You’ll pursue me relentlessly. The same way you chased down your son that was lost. That you’ll not let go unless I ask (which would be rather idiotic and unlikely), that you’ll forever strive to provide and show how much you care.
Like a Dad.
Thank you, Lord. I love you.