Advent, Day 25: Love, with all Your strength

Today’s reading: Psalm 89:19-26

My hand shall always remain with him; my arm also shall strengthen him. (v. 21)

I’m always interested, and very often encouraged/blessed/heartened to think about God in images; I’m a fan of metaphors in general, and they especially help me when I try to get glimpses of God’s Self—a Self far beyond any comprehension our limited language and limited understanding can attain. Metaphors and images give us a way to see facets of God: the trustworthiness of rock, the guidance of a shepherd, the sheltering of a mother bird’s wing, the sustenance of living bread, the quenching of water.

When I read this verse of Psalm 89, the image is as familiar to me as any close friend I’ve ever had; it’s an image of God’s relationship with David (and, I think, with us) that I can identify with in an almost sensory way… I can remember vividly, and almost feel once again, the feel of a friend’s arm circling my shoulders while I wept. I can remember times when my arm was the one supporting a beloved friend in grief.

In our love for our closest friends, it’s a gesture we make without giving it a thought–upholding each other, providing strength where it is lacking, proving our presence in touch, in embrace.

I think when Jesus said that God’s people were to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength” (Mark 12:30), he probably knew very well that people–even God’s people–often needed help being strong. Need to be held in a loving hand, need to have an arm circled around us, holding us up.

In God’s unending love, he reaches out to us to provide that much-needed strength… encouraging, blessing, heartening us to love him more.

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