The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Psalm 23 1-3 (NLT)
I have been looking forward to seeing our special visitors in this part of the country for some time now. I’m taking about the Sandhill Cranes. These large cranes start their journey in southern climates like the southern United States and Mexico and make their way north to parts of Alaska and Canada. Along the way of this long and difficult journey, they make several rest stops. One of their favorites is along the central Platte River in Nebraska. Each year about this time anywhere from 400,00 to 600,00 Sandhill cranes can be found in the stubbled cornfields along that river. It isn’t where they’ve been or where they’ll end up. This area is just one of the many where they stop on their long journey to rest and refuel.
I cross that river multiple times each week on my way out to the farm. In years past, I would see flock after flock in cornfield after cornfield as I drove. I saw on the news that they had congregated already in an area just east of us but I hadn’t seen any yet along my drive. I was worried that I wouldn’t see them this year because we have had such an incredibly dry winter here.
But this week I spotted a few here and there. It brought a sigh of relief. I know for many of you, the “first robin of spring” brings you hope and confirmation that the long winter is nearly over. For me, it has always been the return of the Sandhill Cranes.
I have always marveled at the migration cycle of these birds, how they return year after year after year to the same place. They have made a journey of thousands of miles and they still have thousands of miles to go. God gave these birds the innate knowledge that they couldn’t make this journey in one long sweep. He instilled in them the sense to know when they needed to rest along their journey.
Many restoration journeys are long and difficult. But isn’t it awesome that Jesus invites us to rest along the way? He knows that we often do not have strength on our own to continue on. So He provides a place where we can rest and refuel. Where is this place you ask? It’s in His loving arms.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young. Isaiah 40:11 (NLT)
This has always been one of my favorite verses from the Bible. I can close my eyes and picture myself held in Jesus’ loving arms, my head resting against His chest, as He carries me along the path. My eyes are closed because I know that, in His arms, I need not fear anything the enemy wants to throw my way. I know that in His arms, I am safe, I am loved, I am protected. And I know that whatever happens, He will never leave me.
Do you need a place to rest and refuel today? Has it been one of those days or one of those weeks or maybe even one of those years? Then take the offer Jesus sends our way. Read Isaiah 40 one more time, close your eyes, and imagine yourself held in those loving arms. Lay your head on those protecting shoulders and feel His strength renew your spirit. Know that you are safe, you are loved, you are protected.
And when you pray for your dad or your mom, imagine them this way, too. Imagine them held lovingly in Jesus’ strong arms. Imagine them, tired and weary from the journey, finding a place to rest and refuel. Imagine them finally knowing that they are safe, they are loved, they are protected.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)
A Stander in Nebraska