"But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering;
he speaks to them in their affliction.
'He is wooing you from the jaws of distress
to a spacious place free from restriction,
to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.'"
Job 36:15-16 (NIV)
I kept coming in and out of a horrid, sickness-induced dream. I was in seventh grade and had come down with a severe case of sunstroke from walking in the Congo sun when our vehicle broke down on the road to our destination. I would open my eyes and look for my mother. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that I would not see her face. I would suddenly remember that I was 600 miles away at boarding school, with a dense jungle separating me from her comfort and tender touch. The realization made my soul weep in fear as the tears poured quietly from my eyes. You see, I am a mama's girl, even to this day. I say that without apology. I never had to wonder if I was cherished by my mother because the truth was evident in the delight revealed in her eyes whenever we were together. But I knew that I could not get to her nor she to me. The thought of having to endure the fever and aching body on my own without her comfort was almost more than I could bear.
I had asked to go away to boarding school. At age twelve, I had no one other than my sister and brothers to do life with. I missed a classroom experience and girlfriends to tell silly secrets to. There were no boys to have crushes on while I lived at our mission station alone with my family. And so the decision was made that I would live with strangers for ten months of the year. I loved my school. I loved the adults who took care of forty children as though we were their own. But when I got sick, I wanted my mother--my own mother.
Girlfriend, are you sick today? That may mean a physical, emotional, or spiritual sickness. Maybe you and I have been in the care of strangers for too long. And all of a sudden, we are painfully aware of missing the comfort of home. We have done really well on our own--or so we have thought, until now. When my children were babies and well-fed, changed, and rested, they would happily go to someone else--even a stranger. But when they got hungry and tired, they just wanted me. No one else could comfort them. Are we finding the same to be true with us? Maybe we haven't tasted and seen that the Lord is good in such a long time because we have tried to find our soul's satisfaction everywhere but in our Jesus. Now we find ourselves in a big mess, so tired and discouraged because we need the embrace of our heavenly Father.
It's time to go home. It's time to lift up our eyes and watch our heavenly Father run toward us. No more feeding pigs. No more acting like a slave to sin when we are daughters of the King. Do you see the robe of righteousness He is offering to clothe the naked humiliation our sin has caused us? The signet ring is ready for our finger and sandals fitted to our size for our tired and cracked feet. And just like me with my mama--there is no question as we look deeply into the eyes of our Abba as to whether or not we are cherished by Him. We are the apple of His eye!
Jesus, only in You will I find healing for this worn-out soul of mine. I can get to this place of soul sickness through many avenues. Today, would You let me hear You sing over me? Would You let me know that You are mighty to save me from whatever threatens to keep me in despair? Would You let me know that You take great delight in me--not because of anything I have or haven't done, but simply because it is Your pleasure to do so.