Quieting Love

The other night at church I was holding a baby, a pretty little girl right at a year old. She was smiling and happy, then out of the blue she teared up and started crying. Actually, wailing is more accurate. I took her to her mama, of course, and mama held her, comforted her with that mother’s love, those mother’s arms wrapped around her securely.

There’s a phrase from a verse in an obscure little book in the Bible that keeps running through my mind. I had occasion to look it up the other day as I was writing a devotional and wanted to use a portion of it to support a point. (Interestingly, the phrase I was after for the devotional is not the one that kept running through my mind afterward.) The phrase that I’m stuck on is “He will quiet you with His love,” found in the NKJV translation, Zephaniah 3:17. He will quiet you with His love. Oh what comfort that speaks to my heart!

I think about that beautiful little girl and how she calmed and quieted in her mother’s arms. I think about the absolute trust and security she felt, and how beautiful it was to see her release the anxiety, the fear, the upset in the face of that comforting love. She was safe. She was held. She was loved, and she knew it.

In my own life I have felt the quieting comfort of the love of Christ over and over. It is such a beautiful thing. That peace that passes all understanding spreads like silk over the bumps and bruises, soothing and cooling them. The relief that comes from knowing I am loved, understood, am heard, is beyond description.

I need that quieting love right now. It seems my days have been filled with disquiet, with cartwheeling thoughts, worries and concerns, my mind on an endless loop of activity. At this moment, I am sitting in the quiet of the night having gotten up after attempting to go to sleep. It was (obviously) a failed attempt. One part of my brain can brush it off as just one of those things. I’ve been here before, sitting in the dim light alone with my thoughts because I can’t shut my brain off long enough to fall asleep. I know from experience that it will change, that I’ll be back to what passes for normal, sooner or later. I no longer have that dreadful feeling that this is the new normal. That’s one of the beautiful things about walking with Jesus. He is so persistently present that I can’t make myself doubt Him.

I do have times where I can’t feel Him though, and this seems to be one of those times. I know I’ve written before that I’ve encountered seasons where it seems I just can’t find that connection with Him, and that those are the times when I’ve learned to go back to the basics. But my default is to beat and flail and kick and scream for a time because what I’ve become used to isn’t easily accessed. But He will quiet me with His love. He promised.

There’s a verse in Psalms that says “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your comfort delights my soul.” As an overthinker from early childhood, the beginning of that verse describes me to a T. I spent many years in a state of anxiety. Sometimes it was low-grade, but it was always there. I have revisited the land of anxiety recently, and have found it to be much more prickly than I remember. My thought life is a battle ground, and a lot of times it’s not altogether clear who’s winning. But His comforts do delight my soul. I may not always be able to feel it, but it’s the truth and I know I can stand on it.

I need Him. I need Jesus. Jesus the Wonderful Counselor, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. I need Him. I need the One who held a child in His lap and showed affection to a subset of society that was largely ignored and dismissed. I need the One who met the woman at the well and saw her. I need the One who was accessible and available and touchable. I need the One who was patient in the face of incompetence, who didn’t give up on untrained, unlearned, rough and tumble men but chose to use them to build His church. I need Him.

I need to feel Him right now. I need to crawl up in the lap of my Father and be held. It’s scary down here and there are so many things going on that I don’t understand and it’s just unsettling. I need Him to reassure me that I’m not messing up left, right, and center. I need Him to remind me that He is still here, that He still has me by the hand, that He’s not going to drop me, that He’s never going to leave me. I know all these things, but sometimes I just need a reminder whispered to my heart.

As far as He’s brought me over the last almost year and a half, I still feel like a child sometimes. I still feel like that beautiful little girl who just needed her mama. I need His arms around me so I can relax and lean into Him, lay my head on His shoulder and breathe, that deep, stuttering, cleansing breath that brings with it the release of tension and the warmth of utter safety. I just need my Jesus.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Oh I have plans, activities scheduled, things I want to get done, but I don’t know if I will be working through the day with that unsteady ground under me or if sometime through this long night Jesus will quiet my soul. I just don’t know. I don’t want this unsettledness to keep going. I feel like I’m at the end of my ability to endure it. I’m tired and I want to rest. I want to go back to knowing what I’m doing, to feeling confident and sure. Maybe He doesn’t want me there. Maybe He wants me to lean into Him because I have no other choice but to hold on.

I have no fear when it comes to walking with Jesus. I know that He has me in the palm of His scarred hand, and I don’t worry about what He will want me to do, where He will take me. I do fear, however, misinterpreting what He shows me, misunderstanding what He tells me, and going off on my own. I don’t like to make mistakes. I’ve written before that I wish He would give me a road map, something I can easily read and navigate, so I can set off on my way and get to where He wants me to go. But I realized, as I was typing that thought, that the journey is part of it, learning to trust Him in the journey, learning to stay close to Him, to be in lock-step with Him. It’s not supposed to be me walking along, it’s supposed to be Him walking and me following.

I’m glad that there are times when He waits for me. I’m slow sometimes, and I get turned around, or distracted by something off the path. I wander around lost and get spooked and nervy, then start crying for Him again. I’m so thankful that He’s there when I reach for Him. I’m so thankful for His quieting love. I’m so thankful He loves me, and I know what a chore that could be sometimes. I’m so thankful He’s patient and tender and ever willing to wait for me to catch up.

I’m thankful for these times when I get off track because that’s when I remember that I’m not a smart as I think I am. I don’t have it all together. I don’t know what I’m doing every moment of the day. There are times where I have to look at what’s around me and hope I’m making the right decisions. It’s unnerving, unsettling, and unpleasant, but it pushes me to run back to my Comforter. I trust Him. I know that, even if I don’t feel it at this very moment, He is there, and He loves me, and He will quiet me with His unfailing love.

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