A Guest Post by Linda Stover
These recent days of coronavirus have allowed extended time for reading and reflection. I have increasingly come to appreciate why God’s Word, the Bible, is the “Best Seller” of all times. I have had the blessing of reading and learning from the Bible since I was a child, so many stories are familiar to me, even though details may be forgotten or confused with other stories. When I re-read them, they come into clearer focus, sometimes with added meaning. Other times I become completely aware of something I had totally missed before that leads me to insights about God’s love, guidance and presence in our world and in my life today. That happened again recently.
In Mark 10:13 – 16, Mark tells about a crowd gathering to see and hear Jesus. Parents and grandparents attempt to work their way through the crowd. They want to bring their children to Jesus to have Him touch and bless them. The disciples are frustrated and annoyed — people are just not listening to them for directions as they try to bring order or perhaps even protect Jesus. When they see children trying to squirm their way to the front of the crowd, they look at them and their parents, and proclaim that Jesus is too busy to deal with children. They must wait until another time. When Jesus heard their rebukes, he immediately reversed their commands and declared, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Then he added, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Jesus took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them.
As I reflected on this scene, I began to think about our current pandemic. Coronavirus is certainly creating more stress and causing fear and disruption in our lives. Obviously, coronavirus is not the only cause of added anxiousness in our lives. Recently, dangerous storms and tornados raged through our Cincinnati area. That night between 10:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m., as Greg (my husband), and I hunkered down in our lower level watching the local meteorologist on TV, we texted with family to check on their safety. Geoff and Emily, our son and daughter-in-law had awakened and carried their four young children, ages nine to three, to their basement to be as safe as possible from the storm. One text included a picture of three-year-old Caleb wide-eyed, confused and frightened, but snuggled in his Mama’s arms. About ten minutes later another picture arrived. Caleb was relaxed and fast asleep in those same arms. Thankfully, the storms passed our homes without incident. Caleb was carried to his bed to awaken the next morning refreshed and ready to play.
As I read Jesus’ Mark 10:10 – 13, I could see Caleb resting in his Mama’s arms. How natural to see a child crawl into the lap of his parents, grandparents, a trusted friend, or teacher to hear a story or watch an Ohio State Buckeye game! How often children become so relaxed and feel so safe they fall asleep. We have all seen these moments or experienced these joy-filled times. Jesus used this most natural image of a child wiggling and snuggling into the lap of someone loved and trusted to show us how — even as adults — we come to know the peace and love of God our Father. I have heard and read that it is natural for everyone to seek to know God. We are created with a vacuum in our lives that can only be filled with God. There is an added awareness of that vacuum when tragedy strikes in some form, such as a coronavirus pandemic. As we question, “Where’s God in all this?” there is even more personal and public acknowledgment of God. We hear prayers, Christian and traditional songs sung on Facebook and other media, news announcements of religious services, and more? God is getting his word out amid the storm, “Let the children come to me.”
The message is so simple we may miss it! Learning about God and his loving care for us, begins when we crawl into Jesus’ arms, relax and trust Him to hold us safe and lead us to and through the next steps. Sometimes storm rage. Some of them pass us by. Others may bring challenges or tragedy. However, in all circumstances of life, we can choose to be like Caleb as he slept through the storm in his Mama’s arms. We can seek Jesus’ loving arms to find peace and comfort that is beyond our own comprehension and emotional strength. We even find sleep! I encourage you today, bring a Bible to read or a prayer on your heart, and snuggle into Jesus’ lap today. We are not too old at any age. He waits.