Carry Them Close

Mom’s conviction that God would protect and care for her children wasn’t a wish, but an absolute certainty in her mind. She had good reason to believe it. In the bible, it says in Isaiah 40:11 that “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.” To her way of thinking, as much as she cared for us, He loved us more. She loved the way Jesus cared for women and children throughout his ministry, telling the disciples in Matthew 19:14 to “… ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'”

These truths she engraved in her heart. It didn’t matter whether God Himself intervened or whether He sent His angels to help. She knew that He would keep us from falling. Mom would often read Psalm 91 to us as a prayer. She would focus on verses11 & 12, among others, to remind us that “…He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”

Some people find this hard to believe. They scoff at the idea of an entire heavenly realm operating in conjunction with our own. Given numerous events in my and my brother’s lives, I am convinced that she was right.

My brother was a small child. His feet hung from his chair long after his peers’ were solidly planted on the floor. It is with that understanding that I tell you this first story. He was a cub scout and had gone on a tubing trip with his den down a river in the wilderness. The group stayed together for most of the trip, but at some point, near a series of rapids that lead into a blind turn, my brother got separated from the rest. It was in the middle of nowhere, and no one was around. In the center of the river, he suddenly slipped through the opening in the tube and would have drowned had it not been for one thing. Two hands shot into the water plucking him from the churning rapids and dropped him securely back into the inner tube. The inner tube hadn’t rushed away in the rapids, the owner of the hands had caught it quickly enough to place my brother inside. All this took place in the middle of the river; the man had to be a giant. His tall, lanky form walked out the far side of the river, up the embankment, and out of sight without ever turning around. Soon after, my brother caught up to the rest. He never forgot the encounter.

When I was about eleven, my mother decided to send me to summer sleep-away camp for two weeks. We had gone shopping for camp supplies at a department store a few towns over. Before driving home, she gifted me with a bright red cherry Italian ice for the trip. The road we were traveling on lead eventually to a “T” junction abutting a reservoir at the bottom of a fairly steep hill. It was dusk as we left and it had started to drizzle moments after we got into the car. In no time we were almost at the portion of the road that veered to the left and began its sharp decline; suddenly the man in the back seat ordered, “Put on your seatbelt.” I nearly jumped out of my skin as I turned mid-air to check the back seat. Mom and I had been driving alone, and the back seat was empty. Turning to Mom blissfully driving along in the night rain, I stuttered, “Did you hear that?”

“What?”

“Nothing.” I was flustered.

Licking my icy, questioning my sanity, and nestling myself comfortably seatbeltless back into the front seat, I huffed a sort of incredulous giggle at the absurdity of what I thought I had heard. We were almost at the crest when the man’s voice, imperious now, commanded me once again to, “PUT ON YOUR SEATBELT!” This time I immediately grabbed my seatbelt while I swung my head around both checking the back seat and, noting my mother’s neutral expression. My body still twisted, the click of the belt buckle had just rung out when we went into a skid. Immediately afterward, we were slammed from behind by a large SUV with a thick metal grill guard. The car spun out of control, flipped onto its side and hit the guardrail next to the water. The car was totaled. I had nightmares for weeks. However, I will never forget the sound of the bodiless voice in the back seat.

There were other times I saw the intervention of the Lord in my life; I’ve unfortunately had more than my fair share of near-death experiences. There was the time no one was looking as I played in the surf alone. Before I knew what was happening, I was sucked into an undercurrent wide-eyed, frantically clawing the underwater sand as it slipped through my ineffectual fingers. I realized I had no more breath to hold, when two hands gripped me from under my armpits dragged me from the sucking water and plopped me down in ankle-high water. I gasped my thanks to an empty patch of beach. There was that time with the bees, crossing the busy roadway near my apartment, and so many more.

I wonder if it is His policy to look out for all children or if He intends some higher purpose for my life. I don’t know. What I do know, I know without a doubt. When the aid came in the form of people who weren’t there, there is no other explanation than that God has had a hand in preserving my life. Thank you, Lord for carrying me close to your heart.

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