Psalm 91 has been a favorite of mine for most of my adult life.
I have known the deep comfort of laps and arms and shoulders and the crook of a neck to bury my face in. Maybe you have, too. I hope you have, anyway. There is a special kind of peace that comes in being held close that you just can’t get anywhere else. I guess this is one of the main reasons we hold our babies close long after they are much too large to do so with any kind of grace and elegance. It feels good to hold… and it feels good to be held.
Psalm 91:1-4 (NRSV)
You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence;
he will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
I’ve been thinking about this Psalm non-stop since I saw this picture:
Now, I know what some of you are thinking… those four little feet have army-crawled themselves into a world of serious conversations on their way home from church—about what our church manners look like, about sitting still and paying attention, about the appropriate time to do or not do something. And you know what? Those four little feet possess some serious wisdom and courage that the rest of us do not.
Those four little feet crawled up to the best, safest, most welcoming place any of us can know on this side of heaven. Not only did they wiggle their way up there, but they managed to find their way underneath it—abiding in the table-fort of all Table-Forts, contented and murmuring the wonder and whimsy of small boys, showing all the grown ups that ultimate comfort, unconditional love, and radical welcome are real and open to all of us. They rest on their bellies and hear the best words we know, spoken by a voice that is beloved and restful for them.
There’s no amount of rules or rubrics that can keep us in our seats when we answer the invitation of Jesus to come and abide in his love. When the priest of those four little feet invited her flock to come and see the new table, to worship in the round, to try something new, those four little feet—and the two little boys they belong to—took her seriously. They went up, looked closely, and made themselves right at home. I have a hard time not crying when I think about that—how seriously they took her invitation, how they interpreted it, and how fearless they were in taking their place.
Blessed are the children who have the courage to climb under the table. Blessed are the grown ups who invite them. And blessed are all those who follow their example in unfettered and unashamed acceptance to come to God’s Table just as they are.
How do you rest in God’s embrace?