By Lisa Huddleston
“The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” (Ruth 2:12)
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem … How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Luke 13:34)
As often is the case, several events have taken place within the last week or so that seem inextricably tied to one another—at least in my mind. It may be nothing more than coincidence, but I prefer to think that God is trying to show me something important and believe it’s worth exploring and connecting the dots in order to discover what that message may be.
While it may seem odd to discuss wings and cats together on the same page, the first of these stories concerns my little family of porch cats. This tight little bundle of three appeared early in the fall, and mama and kittens have made a happy home on my back porch since then. We have provided them a cozy “Cuddle Hut” complete with a kitty heating pad for the winter and all the food they can eat. No wonder they’ve stayed. But try as I may, those cats will not let me love on them. They run to their dish when I approach and then scatter if they see that I’m not bringing food. Only one of the three will even give a hint of a purr when I scratch his little head. What a bunch of furry ingrates! Yet, it’s quite obvious they have no intention of leaving, and we have come to an agreement of sorts. We can feed them and care for them, but they will never run to us to have their ears scratched or let us know in any way that they return our affection. It’s just the way it is, and I can like it or lump it.
The next situation that I have pondered this week is much more serious, but it really made me think along the same terms. A friend of mine has a heart for foster children and has brought many of the kids into his family—adopting some and allowing others to pass through as they needed to. Recently, despite his and his wife’s heartfelt efforts, they were forced to ask that a foster child be placed in a new situation. It was painful to know that no matter how much love they extended, they could not force this teenager to accept what they offered—a home, a place of refuge, and room under their wings. My heart ached for my friend.
And I have had other occasions this week to consider this idea, to wonder how I could love someone who only wanted to be left alone to make his own choices. I won’t go into all the details, but it hurts to feel rejected. I even feel wounded by the silly cats so you know I have trouble dealing with being pushed away by people. But I know that my responsibility is to love–period. I have to leave the rest up to others. Sometimes it may be that the love I offer is misunderstood as my trying to take away freedom or maybe it is seen as an attempt to control. It’s even possible in this broken world to see an offer of love as just one more opportunity to feel disappointment and pain. I guess it really is a complicated matter—loving and being loved.
Again, I am sure it was no coincidence that as I taught yesterday’s Bible study, I was surprised to see words in the book of Ruth reminding me that God also wants to take me under his wings. I had not meant to pay attention to them, but as I read them not once but twice (again when Ruth asks Boaz to spread his wing over her), I remembered that God knows just how I feel. He also offers love that is rejected. God so loved the world! The whole world. How many of those he has loved have spurned his gift? Sadly, they are many. Yet, still he holds out his hands to the world. Longing to pull us close. Longing to cover us with his wings of refuge. But they would not! And, sometimes, even I will not. And he grieves.
I am glad to have heard his call this week. As I hurt over my own feelings of rejection, he drew me near. He showed me how much he loves me—even when I turn away. He reminded me that he wants me to love as I have been loved. And I hear him. From those ingrates on the porch to people who don’t yet know what love means, I choose to offer love. It’s the least and the most I can do … as I listen to his heartbeat from under the cover of his wing.