Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Raise Your Head

My fifteen year-old son broke his ankle mountain biking last week.  We've spent a lot of time around the hospital lately since he spent four nights there and had surgery to pin his ankle before leaving.  Lots of life happens in hospitals!  They're places of hope and happiness when things go right, pending sorrow, chagrin over silly accidents, thankfulness for life spared, death, and healing.

Aaron in the ER
Several times when I was in the car park late at night I saw couples arriving to have babies.  The women slowly making their way, all of their focus on the weight that they carried, stopping now and then for a contraction.  The men pulling her suitcase and just wanting to get inside, nervous with the responsibility of two precious lives and anxious to have the hospital staff take that load.

New life, interwoven with pain.  But oh so worth it in the end.

And death just down the corridor.

Life and death, so intertwined.  Bound together.  So much a part of existence.  Continual weaving in the tapestry of living.

Nothing is in a vacuum, everything is bound to something else.  Everyone.  Whether we like it or not--or even recognize it.

"I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.  I stooped and fed them."  (Hosea 11:4 NKJV)

The NLT calls them "ropes of kindness and love."  GOOD bonds.  Bonds of love are not bondage. There is no need to fear commitment when the One that you are bound to is perfectly loving.

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so you would no longer be their slaves.  I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk with your heads held high."  (Lev. 26:13 NLT)

Bondage to slavery, bondage to sin, bondage to the enemy of our souls--bows the neck.  

A couple of weeks ago I spent some time in an office with lots of mirrors.  I kept catching glimpses of myself that surprised me.  Slouched over, neck bowed.  No wonder my neck and back have been hurting!  It's with great relief that I now consciously straighten my neck.  Walking with my 'head held high.' I wasn't even aware of the problem except for a nagging ache until I found the solution.

"I have broken the bands of your yoke and make you walk upright." (NKJV)

Sometimes we don't even realize that our neck has become bowed as we walk through life. The subtle influence of one who destroys.  It might be the tedious ache in our heart, a restless mind keeping us awake at night, anxious thoughts, fears of the future, wondering if we can cope with today, impatience with those that we love, just surviving. Sometimes those bonds are weirdly comfortable and have become a part of who we are.  We don't even know they're there until we cry out like the psalmist:

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."  
(Ps. 139:23-24)

When what we are bound with are 'bands of love' we can walk with our heads held high, trust in His heart and say, "I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." (Job 42:2)

We can relax into bonds like those.  Ropes that comfort instead of confine.  Keep us safe.  Make us strong.

And sigh with relief:

"My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." 
(Ps. 73:26)