john-14-27OK, so maybe I’m bragging a little, but a mom’s entitled. Right?

My son is an amazing dad, and to watch as his three little kids run to him for comfort blesses me beyond belief. Tears disappear as he cuddles and comforts, for in his arms they feel safe and loved; in his arms they have peace.

From an adult perspective, the traumas that send a child fleeing to a parent for comfort may seem very insignificant; but an ‘owie’, hurt feelings, sibling squabbles, a scary dream, anything that shatters his/her peaceful world seems as big a deal to them  as do the things that shatter ours.

As 2017 looms large on the horizon, there are certainly a lot of issues with which to be concerned. Whether our problems are personal, national, or international; there is much that would make us yearn for a place of rest and safety. Fortunately, such a place does exist, and we can rush headlong into the loving arms of our Father to be comforted just as readily as my grandchildren run to my son. Jesus understood this well, as He encouraged His disciples:

Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 32-33)

About a hundred and fourteen years ago, Cleland B. McAfee wrote “Near to the Heart of God” from a place of personal grief and loss. Modeling Jesus, he also knew from Whom his strength came:

There is a place of quiet rest,
Near to the heart of God;
A place where sin cannot molest,
Near to the heart of God.
O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God;
Hold us, who wait before Thee,
Near to the heart of God.
There is a place of comfort sweet,
Near to the heart of God;
A place where we our Savior meet,
Near to the heart of God.
There is a place of full release,
Near to the heart of God;
A place where all is joy and peace,
Near to the heart of God.

Over 2000 years ago, God was there for Jesus’ disciples; over a century ago He was there for Mr. McAfee; and He is still there for us today. May we all rest in His peace today, tomorrow, and throughout 2017.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

A New Year’s Prayer

2016On December 31, 2015, New Year’s Eve, I awoke from a vivid dream in which I’d been surrounded by others at the sort of conference center that one might find in a nice hotel. A pianist was playing nice background music from the lobby, catching my attention as she began to play a familiar tune. As I began to sing, many others joined in:

God bless America, land that I love
Stand behind her and guide her
Through the night with a light from above
From the mountains, to the prairies
To the oceans white with foam
God bless America
My home sweet home

I’d sung the words as a heartfelt prayer, with my eyes closed. When I opened them there was a nice looking man standing next to me who I believe was the Lord, and He encouraged me to keep on singing. Today, as I welcomed 2016 during my quiet time, He directed me to Psalm 100 and Psalm 101:1:

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
to you, O Lord, I will make music.

May 2016 be a year in which we, His people, seek Him above all else and joyfully sing His praises, for:

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

May God bless all who read this, whether you are in America or in any other nation on earth, for He is there. May 2016 be a year in which you encounter Him  and His sufficiency, His grace, and His mercy in every aspect of your life.