In the Palm of His Hand

Last Sunday, after leaving our church’s morning gathering, I found myself driving towards Faro with little desire to go home. The sun shone brightly above me, resisting the scattered clouds’ attempts to squelch its warmth, as occasional gusts of wind orchestrated their pearly procession across the sky. Denny had been away since the Tuesday prior, and the idea of returning to an empty house was unappealing.

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I decided to make my way to a relatively new eatery I’ve been wanting to try called The Woods. Right in the center of the city, across from the marina, it has a rooftop terrace – the perfect place to enjoy a light meal, relax, people watch, and catch some rays on this gorgeous day.

Finding my way to a small table with a fabulous view, I ordered one of their huge salads and a fresh fruit and veggie juice, and gazed out at my surroundings. The wind had picked up a bit, and I had to keep my elbows propped firmly on my recycled paper placemat, to prevent it from being whisked away.

It was then that it caught my eye, as it always does: the stork’s nest in the roundabout.

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I should tell you that the White Stork is quite common in the Algarve region of Portugal, making its home here every Spring, after spending the winter season in Central Africa. A monogamous bird, it returns to the same location year after year, to mate with its lifelong companion.

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Photo credit: Whitney Hurst

 

Together, they build their massive nests, measuring one to three meters in width, in the most precarious of places: from chimneys to church steeples, bell towers and street light poles. Rendering this feat even more amazing is their meter-tall (3.5 foot) height and their wingspan of two meters (nearly 7 feet)! It’s as if they intentionally choose to defy all odds, raising their family, quite literally, “on the edge.”

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As I dug into my salad, the stork in the roundabout, (alone in its nest, clearly awaiting its mate’s return), stood firmly on its long, spindly legs, facing the marina. The wind rose playfully to the challenge, delivering a forceful gust that caused the banner below the nest to swell brusquely. Mr. Stork’s fellow fowl glided gracefully through the air above him, but he chose instead to stand his ground, unfaltering.

I pondered this great mystery: a bird so large, with such long, thin legs, somehow feeling safe nesting atop a street light’s pole, high above the ground, fully exposed to the blasts of wind hurled its way by an unmerciful sea. And as I watched him standing there unfazed by the tempest, I recognized something familiar in the shape of this particular lamppost and the resting place of that nest. It was as if it were being held in the palm of an immense hand.

I took you from the ends of the earth,
    from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
    I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41: 9-10

How often are we called by this God, who created the universe so vast and infinitely amazing, to “build our nest” in the most unlikely of places? And immediately we begin to calculate our likelihood of success or the multiple reasons why this choice would not make sense: we’re too “big” for that, our “wingspan” is too wide, the location’s unduly precarious, the “height” too challenging, our “legs” aren’t sturdy enough to withstand the wind and exposure to the elements. And raising children there? Let’s not even think about it!

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Photo credit: Whitney Hurst

What we fail to see is the most obvious marvel of all. When we obey His voice, He holds us in the palm of His hand. And all those scary bits that we factor in? They will never, ever compare to the beauty of resting in the Father’s embrace.

Can a mother forget the baby
    who is nursing at her breast?
Can she stop having tender love
    for the child who was born to her?
She might forget her child.
    But I will not forget you.
I have written your name on the palms of my hands.
Isaiah 29:15-16

So as God lovingly presents us with new challenges, beckons us to greater heights, and chooses us for tasks that threaten to dismay us, let us make an essential choice. Sure, we can focus on all that stands to defeat us. But He has spoken promises over us that no man nor foe can undo.

I have not rejected you.

I am with you.

I am your God.

I will strengthen you, help you, uphold you.

I will not forget you.

I have written your name on the palms of my hands.

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Teach me, Lord, to trust and obey;

to rest securely in the One who breathes life into me;

for where better to build my house, than in the palm of Your mighty hand?

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2 thoughts on “In the Palm of His Hand

  1. Love it Maureen! made me tear up a bit – we talked about this at Shift on Wednesday, how we view God as helpful, and not Holy. When we see him as Holy – we see as your wrote, how much he loves and takes care of us – love it!

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    • So true, Kim! When He is simply “helpful,” we can choose to accept or reject His counsel in the form of the Bible and the words He speaks to us by His Spirit. As we come to know Him as holy and as Father, we recognize His Word as truth, not given as from a taskmaster but from a loving and perfect God. How can we NOT submit to One who is so holy and loves us so deeply? All His plans for us are good, for a hope and a future (even when, at times and in certain seasons, they may not appear that way to OUR understanding). Thanks for reading and for you feedback!

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