“Child of My love, lean hard,
And let Me feel the pressure of your care;
I know your burden, child. I shaped it;
Balanced it in Mine Own hand; made no proportion
In its weight to your unaided strength,
For even as I laid in on, I said,
‘I will be near, and while she leans on Me,
This burden will be Mine, not hers;
So will I keep My child within the circling arms
Of My Own love.’ Here lay it down, nor fear
To impose it on a shoulder than upholds
The government of worlds. Yet closer come:
You are not near enough. I would embrace your care;
So I might feel My child reclining on My breast.
You love Me, I know. So then do not doubt;
But loving Me, lean hard.”
Streams in the Desert, September 12th
I don’t know about you, but man this poem hits hard and hits home for me! I found this poem several years ago in the midst of an especially hard season of my life, and have been reminded of it often during this new season of trial. When I first found this writing, I was hurting and broken, and in great need of the comfort only God could to provide. And His provision in that season came in the form of this poem. The minute I read it- it touched my soul. The intimacy and love pictured here provide such a sustaining picture of the kind of relationship I want with God that I have never forgotten it!
There are few things as truly special to me as the image of a small child in the lap of a Mother or Father. I have always been a person who loves physical touch! It is definitely one of my love languages! I hug simply brightens my day! And even as a child being held by my parents is something I remember as truly comforting. I can still remember the deep refreshing I found in my own childhood when wrapped in warm arms of my Mom or Dad. I always felt safe there. Always cared for. Always loved- unconditionally. No matter the worries that surrounded me, the minute I slid into the soothing arms of my parents all my problems slipped away. And I have been convinced more and more in the last few months that this is EXACTLY the kind of relationship God desires to have with each and every one of his children.
In the last few weeks, God has been impressing on me, my own personal need for this kind of relationship with Him. The need to develop the kind of relationship with Him where I can be brutally honest in my worries and cares. Where I “lean on” God in the midst of my trials. The kind of relationship where I snuggle up to my Abba Father, laying my burdens at His feet! Letting Him encircle me with His tender arms of care. Early on in my personal walk with Jesus I learned the principle of being open and honest in my relationships with others as well as with God. Being honest can develop a depth of relationship that can not be matched. Vulnerability produces depth that no casual interaction can. And this is just as true in our personal relationships here on earth with each other, as it is in our relationship with our Savior. And I have been finding more and more that honesty with my God and Creator develops a kind of intimacy that is truly unmatched. When I am willing to lean in, to be honest about my own heart and it’s condition, I find God there! But this is not always our natural tendency as people. In fact, I think it may be the opposite of a natural mindset for many!
I think there are a few reasons we tend to avoid the kind in intimacy that this poem speaks of. First of all, I believe one of the reasons this is hard is simply because being honest and vulnerable is just scary for many people. It opens up our hearts to great love, but it can also mean great pain. We must acknowledge our own hurts. We must speak them out loud. The power of not speaking these truths is an odd sort of comfort. Even if it doesn’t change our situation it helps us ignore our pain and problems. Being honest can also open up areas we are afraid will bring judgment. It can show areas of ourselves that aren’t often pretty, and who really wants those areas of their lives to be on display? It is much easier to keep them hidden and under wraps than open ourselves up to be really seen. So we stay professional and distant from God, instead of leaning into His arms.
Secondly, when we are honest and vulnerable with God we then must also listen to His promptings toward change. We open ourselves up for transformation, and that can be harder than just living in the “known” comfort of our sorrow or pain. Sometimes if feels like it is safer to stay in our known pain then venture out into the unknown where healing might be found. It’s funny how even something that is painful can seem more comfortable than all the unknown possibilities of a better life, better hope. This keeps us from seeking God’s comfort and healing. The shaping and molding of sanctification is often uncomfortable, thus we avoid being real with God. We don’t lean in, or lay our cares at His feet because this means we must start the process of transformation. Even when that process produces good fruit, there is no denying it can be painful. Thus we have a tendency to try to stay at a safe distance in our relationship with God. This allows ourselves to stay where we are, no matter how unhappy we may be. So because of both these reasons we keep God at a distance. We don’t treat Him as that “Abba Father,” the Daddy we desperately need and want. We instead treat Him as far off and aloof. Far away from the hurting and broken.
We chose not to lean into our relationship with God, we won’t let His arms surround us and we refuse to lay down the burdens we are dragging around. All this in attempt to stay at a safe distance. We talk politely and professionally from the other side of the room, hoping this kind of relationship will suffice. In an effort to stay safe, we try to keep the “ugly” of our hearts to ourselves. Why would God want to see that part of us anyway? Maybe more accurately, why would I WANT God to see that part of me? So instead of jumping into the arms of our Daddy and allowing Him to comfort us, soothing our wounded and broken hearts, what develops is a less than honest interaction with our Savior. One where we don’t really express how we feel. One where we stay at a distance. It keeps our hearts guarded, it keeps us from having change. But it also keeps us stagnate. Un-growing. Stalling the transformation process that deep, intimate relationship with God will provide. Ultimately, this robs us of the deep comfort God CAN and WANTS to provide! I love the line of the poem that says: “You are not near enough!” If this doesn’t speak to God’s desire for intimate relationship with us, I don’t know what does! He wants to feel the pressure of our cares. He wants to embrace us, feel us reclined peacefully on His chest. What a an encouragement for my soul to climb up into God’s lap and just let myself be vulnerable. Let myself be known.
We know that the Bible says God knows us completely. We can not hide from God. He is the one who made our very hearts, and He cannot be blinded to any aspect of our lives. He knows us! He created us! There is nothing that is hidden from our Savior. The whole of Psalm 139 is the perfect picture of just how known we are by God. I would encourage you to spend some time dwelling on this chapter. When I think and ponder on how God made me and how He knows me, it starts to develop a desire in my heart for the kind of relationship this poem describes. In the first verse the psalmist says: “O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thoughts from afar.” Later in this chapter it explains that there is no where we can go to hide from His presence! It shares how He has formed us, He shaped us, and He will always know us perfectly. And if this isn’t an encouragement to start having an honest and real relationship with Jesus Christ I don’t know what is! I want that “be near and rest” kind of relationship. One where I feel completely safe and totally known. Where the God of my heart can comfort my soul, speak truth to the deepest parts of me, and help me bear the burdens I that are weighing down my soul so tremendously.
I have found that the Psalms in general give voice to this theme in a very real way. Here are some verses that speak to God’s heart for you. His heart to have a deep and intimate relationship with you. One characterized by the Abba Father kind of love described in the poem.
“I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears…The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them all from their troubles.” Psalm 34:4, 7
“The LORD is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.” Psalm 145: 17-19
The challenge than friends is this: Climb up into God’s lap! Let His arms of comfort and love wrap around you, and lay your burdens at His feet. He didn’t design you to do this on your own. In fact, His purposes are just the opposite! Get near to God! Let Him give you the strength you need for today. Dig into this relationship dear ones, and don’t be afraid of being honest. Because He knows your heart either way! He knows your struggles and desires that you would speak them to Him, give them to Him. Your honest communication will begin to develop a deep and abiding relationship with your Savior. One that will give you comfort, peace, joy. This kind of relationship will also help you wade through deep waters. His comfort and care will direct your steps, giving great purpose and hope to your life! God so deeply desires to love you well. Our only job is be honest and let Him start to process! He has given us just enough grace for today…..and more than enough love to be found in those wide open arms of His….