Students milled about, as I apprehensively entered the auditorium and found a seat. It was my first experience in a Baptist-style revival. With my Midwestern Methodist background, I was not accustomed to seeing tearful people pour down the aisles to kneel at the altar. But in that particular week, I was getting a full dose of it.
The main topic of the week was “Strongholds”—things in your life that hold you back from being all that God wants you to be.
My heart already raw from a lifetime of trying to gain the approval of my perfectionist mother, it wasn’t a message I wanted to hear.
About an hour after the service that night, our Bible study group met for discussion and prayer. Sitting in that prayer circle, my head bowed and eyes closed, I was not expecting the sudden flow of unstoppable tears, which began streaming down my face. My attempts to control the damage with a tissue proved fruitless. I was definitely not going to get out of this one unnoticed.
After the final “Amen,” the leader eyed me questioningly, but I couldn’t speak. Too choked up to utter a word, I simply held my hand up to say, “I just can’t explain,” waved goodbye, and dashed out the door.
The flood continued as I trekked across campus in the cool, crisp, autumn air. At last, I sought refuge under a tree.
“What do you want from me?” my anguished soul cried out to God.
It was then that I heart the still, small voice—those tender, Holy whispers that penetrated my very soul and spirit. “I just plain love you,” He said gently, clearly. “And I want to take you into my arms and hold you.”
“WHAT?!” was my astonished response. He just plain LOVED me? He wanted to take me in His arms and HOLD ME??! He didn’t want me to DO anything or CHANGE anything??! He just plain LOVED me??
It was a possibility that I had never even considered, and yet, He spoke with such conviction, that I knew with all that was within me that it was TRUE!
And since I wasn’t comfortable at the altar, He’d met me outside, under the tree.
The next torrent of tears cleansed my heart and soul, as healing waters saturated the wounds that had come from far too many years of pain and frustration over never being able to measure up, no matter how hard I tried.
The pebbles and stones that had been grafted into the wounds were washed loose. I placed them in a box, tied it up with string, and threw it into the heavens, for Jesus to capture and transform.
Then those healing waters, mingled with blood, soothed the wounds and eased the swelling. It all happened while I was in the strong arms of Jesus.
I never have measured up to the expectations of my mother. There have been times I have nearly driven myself and everyone else crazy trying. There have been other times I have given up completely and caused a lot of trouble.
It still astonishes me that the Holy whispers are always there. “I just plain love you,” He never tires of telling me. “And I want to take you in my arms and hold you.”
Those whispers have the same, poignant effect today that they did back then. They have helped me to mature as God’s child. So that now I don’t have to be the wounded child any more. But instead, I can see the wounded child in my mother, and with our dear Lord Jesus, say to her, over and over again, “I just plain love you. And I want to take you into my arms and hold you.”
Anything is possible in the strong arms of Jesus.