Resting in our Father’s Arms
We added a new family member this summer: his name is Bennett, Benny for short, and he weighs less than five lbs. Our daughter, Molly, picked Benny up on her way out of Chicago as she drove across country to move to her new home, California! I met Molly in Denver after she had driven for four days, stopping to see her friends and cousins along the way. Benny was already so bonded to her, he literally cried when he lost sight of her.
We spent a few days in Denver, catching up with our family and friends. My sister, April, dog sits so along with her dog, Benny had three big dogs to befriend. He did a great job, despite being mistaken as a rabbit by one dog, who has about to enjoy a big bite. Thankfully, Molly rescued him before any feast took place.
Molly and I drove the 1,300 mile trip in two days. We loaded up her small car with all her possessions and my (growing) additions, and drove out of town one hot June morning. We went 900 miles the first day. When we stopped at a rest stop in Nevada which literally had no running water or a blade of grass because it was so hot, we realized we had to find a hotel soon! Unfortunately, there was an accident on the highway right after our stop and traffic came to a complete halt. We made the adventurous move to cross the median, not making it up the soft shoulder the first time with Molly’s not so powerful car! But, we tried again and got success and were able to drive another fifty miles to stay in Winnemucca, Nevada.
Benny was so exhausted from his Denver visit with the dogs and adoring friends, he slept almost the whole first day. Not so much the second day. We drove seven hours and I think we made 8 stops because he was howling in his kennel, begging to be set free! He didn’t realize he was in his kennel to keep him safe; he only knew it was more fun to be somewhere else.
It was an exciting moment to introduce Benny to his new home, he was so happy to be set free from his kennel, he literally ran in circles in our great room for twenty minutes. We took him outside and he immediately fell into the hot tub! I realized then we had our work cut out for us; this little three lb. bundle of fur is going to keep us hopping. He hasn’t disappointed: the very next week, he ate palm tree fertilizer and had to meet the vet ahead of his scheduled appointment to be rehydrated!
In some ways, Benny reminds me of myself. I like to move at rapid speed, meet lots of new friends, live life on the edge, full of adventure. I hate to be confined, or ignored, or removed from the action. But, in my Heavenly Father’s full love, he moved me to a new place and set me inside a kennel. He didn’t do this to torture me, or to harm me, but to protect me. He knew I needed time to rest and I needed to be safe. I needed to recalibrate my life and rhythms so they were more aligned with his patterns of living meant to bring us fulfilling life.
3dm, (weare3dm.com) has a shape which illustrates this rhythm: it’s called the Semi-Circle: Fruitful Living. It points to the balance between rest and work. Jesus calls it abide and bear fruit. It also points us to the reality of pruning and growing. I’ve been pruned and although it’s been so painful in some ways; it’s been a gift in others.
One day the Lord showed me a picture in my mind of three words: drivenness, determination, dependency. I saw arrows pointing from determination back to drivenness, and forward to dependency. As I reflected on drivenness, I saw a big set of rose clippers lop off a branch called drivenness. Then, almost like a spotlight, pointed to “dependency.”
I knew then, I was being pruned of my determination which leads to drivenness. This is the fruit which doesn’t last. It’s the fruit that rots on the ground, rather than becoming a delicious treat for its eater.
On the flip side, when my determination leads me to greater dependency on God, to an even more adventurous pursuit of his life for me, I can be assured of a great harvest.
Yesterday, I harvested two big bowls of peaches from our last fruit tree of the season. I was overwhelmed with how big, how perfect, and how tasty they grew to be. And, I thought about how I’ve watched the tree bloom, the peaches start to develop, and then to ripen on the tree. I knew I wasn’t responsible for this harvest: oh, we did our part by watering occasionally and perhaps fertilizing a couple of times, but mostly, this harvest came from my Father who wanted to highlight for me what happens when I pattern my life after his ways, and bring my desire and determination for an adventurous and fruit filled life into alignment with him!
Last night Molly and I watched some home movies, and as our two special family members: Nicki the 90 lb. Bernie and Benny the 4 lb. fluff ball slept away, Benny nestled in Nicki’s arms, I couldn’t help but see the invitation in their sleep. I am invited into my great big father’s arms to rest, to abide, to sleep, to be at peace, because when I am in his arms, everything in life is okay!