Monday, July 13, 2015

The God of a Swaddled Embrace

Pastor Tim Kufeldt of Dayspring Church of God
addresses our congregation in Tecpan.

The wooden bench was hard and I had to shift my weight. Sunlight filtered through the open door at the back of the room. I could see dust bunnies drifting away from the steady rocking of the ceiling fans about. I was holding my four-year old daughter, Sterling as she slept a deep drool-dripping collapse on my shoulder. My eyes were heavy as the pastor struck a rhythm with his Spanish baritone preach. 

I simply couldn’t keep my eyes open. They’d shut no matter how hard I concentrated. Sterling and I slept in the service. What a fine example I was, a visiting pastor at a prominent Guatemalan church, dozing in the pew. I woke up with a guilty glance of shame to the right and to the left, hoping the pastor hadn’t noticed me from the raised podium.

Even so, it remained a struggle. With concentration I could focus on the meaning of his phrases, but the effort continually yielded to the lazy turn of the fans, the heat, the snuggle of Sterling, and the pacing of that richly spoken voice. 

I battled with a nodding head all the way to the conclusion, waking several times in startled defeat. Suddenly there was a shift to his tone that indicated a close to the sermon. It’s the same in any language. You see the relaxed posture of the speaker and you hear the resolved tone. The message has been delivered, and the burden has been shifted to the hearer.

Directly in front of me sat a young lady with long dark hair that was tied back with a piece of Mayan jewelry. The darkness and radiance of her hair was contrasted with the deep jade stone in the center of the clasp. She wore black-framed eyeglasses that blended with her hair. Her skin was a warm, flawless caramel. Rich reds, greens, and purples wove together to form a blouse that required weeks of skill to perfectly complete. 

She was holding a tiny infant, no more than a few months old. The girl had been quiet the entire time and her wide, dark eyes scanned the room as her mother handed her over to her grandmother, who was also stunning in her traditional clothing.

The mother stood expectantly but gracefully as she raised up a long hand-woven cloth that she began to wrap around her waist, across her front, and around her shoulders. She created a pouch that would nestle her small child. The grandmother stood the baby girl up, supporting her under the shoulders as her slippered feet just touched the rough-hewn wooden bench.

The mother reached out her arms down to the baby while the small child looked up to meet her gaze with a smile that would rival any painted masterpiece. I expected the mother to pick up her baby, but she waited. While looking at her little infant girl, she again gestured with open arms… and this time the tiny baby reached her arms up towards her mother, and she was instantly lifted, swaddled, and carried.

Maybe it was the heat, or simply my exhaustion? No, I think it was the power of the moment that snapped me wide-awake. I was overcome with emotion. So many times I just want to be picked up and comforted by my heavenly Father, and I think I fail to reach.

There was something so significant in that moment that the infant reached up for her mother’s outstretched arms. The mother’s arms were there all along, but it wasn’t until the baby reached up to receive the embrace that she felt her entire body being swaddled and comforted in her mother’s arms.

How often do we long for the embrace of our Father while we fail to reach up? I’m not sure what the sermon was about that evening, but I thank God that He spoke deeply to my weary soul in that moment.

Are you wondering why God isn’t embracing you? He may simply be waiting for you to reach for Him. Reach now. The cloth is ready to wrap you in His love.

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