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We Are Never Alone
By Don Hutton
Thursday, April 14

Hosea 11:4
"I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them & fed them."

 A man was walking alone on a deserted Hendricks County road. He had just been given the diagnosis of colon cancer. That man was Noble Bowen, my father-in-law. He was devastated by the news as you could well imagine. He sought solace in that country walk, and he was looking for answers. Mostly he just wanted to know if God was still there. Noble Bowen wanted to know if he would have to face this most difficult of life's journeys alone.

In such a dire situation, it is common to ask, "Why?" Noble wanted to go out and talk to God to see if he would get the answer. The answer came in the form of a bird, a Great Blue Herron to be exact. As he walked along that lonesome road, Noble noticed that the Herron had flown down and landed right beside him. Now, I am not an ornithologist, but I can tell you from my own experience that Great Blue Herrons are skittish creatures who loathe human contact. As Noble continued down the road, he saw that the bird didn't fly off, but continued the walk and remained by his side.  The bird was a sign that indeed God was still with him and indeed would remain along his side throughout the remainder of his arduous journey. There was another way that God's love was revealed to Noble Bowen. 

My wife Patty, along with her sisters, took care of Noble while he was so very sick. This they did lovingly and gladly. You see here the other way that Noble Bowen experienced God's healing presence. I'm speaking of course of the bands of love through a loving family. Noble actually felt bad that his daughters were spending so much time away from their families. Patty understood, but she helped him to understand why she needed to provide this extensive care. Noble argued that the daughters "shouldn't have to do that." Patty assured her father that not only was the Herron a sign of God's love, so to was the healing power of a loving family. Patty countered her dad's protest with the calm assurance that "It is my honor to help him." The Bowen sisters and my wife showed their father that not only was God always with him, but he also had the relentless love of his family as well.

It is very important that our families as well as our Christian community be so ordered. "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God;  Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God" (1 John 4:7). Love in the Christian family is both vertical and horizontal. The love first comes from God on high down to us. We are then supposed to take that all encompassing love and share it with those around us.

I believe there are two important Christian--concepts that I would like to draw from this short but important verse. 1: God sends his gracious presence to us every day, "but they did not know that I healed them" (Hosea 11:3). How can I say this strongly enough? God is always with us! God continually condescends to us and walks beside us. God flies down from on high to spend time letting us know that indeed we are loved. In the same manner we are called to love one another as God has loved us.

Here is concept #2. We must always be aware that this love we must share with one another has its source in God's infinite mercy. The degree to which love is shared defines the extent to which we can be called a Christian community. What would happen if we were to show our Christian community while driving? We would take a major chunk out of road rage that's for sure. What about board meetings? If we were to let our love show, the meeting wouldn't be characterized by rancor and  acrimony. Instead, as Christians, we would put others need first and the meeting would be ruled by forbearance and a sense of mutual well being.

The love described here is a verb. It's something we do. This kind of love is a selfless love. And I believe that "when we all get to heaven," we will be judged by the extent to which our lives we loved one another. If we all had this kind of love, it would create a new community where the world would see the difference in us due to the radical and loving grace of God.

Gracious God, we thank you that you have promised to never leave nor forsake us. Grant, O Lord, that we would be so filled by your healing love that we live in love with You and one another.  Amen.

Other scripture references   
John 15:13; 1 John 4:7-10

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