Thursday, February 10, 2005

restraining arm

I inherited my mother’s arm.

The three of us girls each received unique qualities and character traits from our mother. One sister got her gracefulness. The other inherited her decorating skills. But me? I have her restraining arm.

You know the arm I’m talking about. It’s your right arm, the one that pops out to save your child’s life when you have to brake suddenly. The traffic light turns yellow, or the car in front of you swerves or screeches to a halt. You don’t even think in situations like that. Your response is automatic: out pops the arm—and, voila! Another life is saved.

My children don’t appreciate the arm.

“You scare me when you do that!’ my 15 year-old son complained one afternoon right after I saved his life.

“Can’t help it,” I responded. “I’m a mom.”

“I’m wearing my seatbelt, you know,” he said.

I glanced at the strap across his chest. It did a semi-adequate job, I supposed. But without the added layer of protection afforded by my appendage, who knew what calamity might befall my child?

I didn’t like the arm either, as a child. But now that I’m on the other side of the limb—now that I’m the one actually operating the tool—I understand better what it’s all about.

It’s about loving someone enough that you’ll stop them mid-flight. It’s about not wanting to see that loved one go through pain. It’s about protection.

God has a restraining arm, too. It shot out last week and saved my step-sister’s life. Nancy was driving home late and came to a series of stop lights. As it’s her usual route, she knows that series well. She knows those lights always turn green simultaneously. But on this night—for some odd reason—though the first and third lights turned green, the second one turned red. So Nancy had to sit, irritated, and wait for that middle light to turn green. But as she sat there fuming, she looked up to see an out-of-control car careen through the third intersection. The driver had run a red light and bolted straight across the path Nancy would have taken if she’d been able to proceed ahead. As she watched the car skid and strike the guard rail, Nancy knew exactly what had just happened--and she thanked Him on the spot.

God shows that mighty arm in a variety of ways, ways not always popular with His children. He ends a job, or a project, or a relationship. He closes a door. He sends us on a detour. We don’t always appreciate when our Father stops us in our tracks, bars the door, blocks the entrance, or says “no.” But we should appreciate it. It’s just more proof that He loves and protects His children—whether we’re 5 or 15 or 105.

The next time you’re halted or detoured, stop for a moment and remind yourself how much you’re loved. Remember, too, that you don’t share the same view of the future as God does. Instead of complaining or arguing about the course of things, trust that He's taller and sees farther. Trust His foresight, rest in His sovereignty—and thank Him for that restraining arm.

“He acted with a strong hand and powerful arm. His faithful love endures forever.” Ps 136:12 (NLT)

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