Close Beside Me

“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:4‬ ‭

To say it was unexpected was a bit of an understatement.

To be honest, it had never happened before. Being a novelty, it felt rather – awkward. It was a bit like being on a podium and not knowing what to do with your hands. You tend to pluck at your sweater or collar or face in the effort to be casual.

And you never achieve casual. Everyone in the room feels your awkwardness.

As a primary teacher, I’ve had plenty of kids give me dandelion tokens of affection. I often get hugs. Sometimes they want to hold my hand.

This was new.

(But I guess I’d better fill in some background for those of you who weren’t there.)

The littles and I had walked the length of the hallway to the art room to view our school fish. We were on our return journey when I felt it.

A small hand on the small of my back.

Startled, I looked down. Waaaaay down. Here was a little – a very little little – walking calmly along with a small esoteric smile – and his left hand on my back. Given the height difference, his arm was at a ridiculous angle.

This is new, I thought.

I did what I always do when I’m not quite sure what to do.

I cracked a joke.

“Are you worried I’ll get lost?” I asked with a goofy grin.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Now he was insulted.

“Nnnno!” he replied with more than a faint grace of disgust. Then he continued, that look of almost priestly holiness and calm fastened back firmly on his wee face.

Yeah.

His hand.

Still on the small of my back.

I resisted the urge to whip around and see who could be walking down the hallway behind us. I debated speeding up – or slowing down.

Then I ‘got it’.

Something just clicked.

“Do you just want to be close to me?” I asked quietly.

Bingo.

He looked up with an angelic smile, and nodded firmly, just one gentle but supremely pleased affirmative.

All awkwardness fell away. The final steps to our classroom were suddenly wrapped in a dignity all their own. It was a moment of poignant meaning.

I was able to accept it for what it was – an offering of love and devotion, as only a little can give.

I melted. I positively melted.

I wonder what our small steps toward God, our tentative drawing closer, our instinctive shift to place our small hand out to approach that strong arm does to the heart of our Father.

I’ve been connecting more to God as a Being of emotion lately. He often refers to Himself as a father – and as a parent, I can imagine the pride, the exasperation, the love, the pain of having children disregard your rules, turn their back on you, mock and despise you.

Ouch.

But I also know the tender moments, the times when you feel so close to your child, the times when your heart bursts with pride and compassion and a desire to protect and provide and give them the world.

So the thought of God’s heart melting with tenderness as I hold out my hand, and draw near by faith, and choose to spend time in His Word and in prayer, pouring out my heart to Him, is a powerful one.

The 23rd Psalm is one of the most well known and loved psalms. This passage which describes being in the presence of God and having fear vanish because He is close beside us – well, that packs a powerful punch. The rod and staff – symbols of both the authority of kingship and the care and protection of a good shepherd – are tokens of His power and compassion.

They help me to remember that at any time, in every circumstance, I have the God of the Universe close beside me. No awkwardness. Just pure, delightful love.

Draw closer to God with me?

Father, it is an amazing thing to be loved by You! Thank You for earnestly desiring a real, close, loving relationship with us. Remind us that we can boldly draw near to You because of Jesus and His work on the cross on our behalf. Amen.

Published by melodylowes

I am actually a bit of a mess. But in the mess, I’m finding security in knowing I am chosen, I am forgiven, and I matter. After uncovering a history of abuse in my past, I have done a lot of healing - and writing is one way I can invite you deeper into your own healing journey! I write devotionals about the complicated thing called life at growing-in-grace.ca, and my poetry is stashed at melodylowes.com. Pull up a chair and a coffee or tea and let's grow together!

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