My sister, Laura, my Mamaw Wilkes, and I the last time we visited her and my grandfather prior to her death.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." ~ Luke 15:20
Have you ever been embraced by arms that made you feel absolutely welcomed and safe?
As a child, I was blessed by the arms of family members that were open to me, and made me feel that way. However, no pair of arms made me feel that way more than the arms of my grandmother.
Mamaw Wilkes, as we called her, was a person who paid attention to fine details. An artist, she sewed magnificent pieces, painted beautiful pictures, and offered a home of hospitality that any stranger would feel welcomed. Even though it has nearly been 40 years since I last knew those arms, to this day, if I smell Jergen's hand lotion, I think of her. Funny how that works.
There was something about running to greet her, and her arms embracing, and always being told, "I'm proud of you," and believing these words to be true, even when I knew that not everything in my life was always good.
I have to believe that the son who returns home after making a mess of things in his life, was greeted and felt worth, even after all he had done and experienced.
For those of us who have experienced arms that embrace when we have known hurt, sadness, disappointment or failure, they are the very thing that doesn't just embrace our wounds, but they are healing.
I have been asked many times why I use the phrase, "Stay in God's grip!"
I guess it's because I want us each to know that embrace. To be reminded that when we experience the presence of the arms of God, that there is a sense of wholeness. When we hear the words, "I'm proud of you," we somehow take the things that world has taught or told us, and relinquish the power they have over us. That in a moment, we see ourselves as God sees and knows us to be.
It's knowing that everything will somehow be alright.
For me, it's not necessarily going out an making a mess of things, returning home to a party, and a disgruntled sibling. It is a story that we all can relate. It's knowing arms that love, and hands that hold, when we need them.
I'm thankful for the human hands that have held me, and the arms of God that hold me!
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.