"The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand." Psalm 37:24
When the Lenten season rolls around, thoughts of Ashley do too. I remember Ashley because during my intern year of seminary, I spent a large part of that Lenten season visiting her and her parents.
You see, Ashley was born three months premature and weighed 1 pound, 3 ounces at birth. Her mom was a nurse, and she continually was educating me about premature babies as we would gather for prayer and fellowship around Ashley's incubator.
All of the monitors hooked to Ashley and what they all indicated regarding her health fascinated me.
The monitor that fascinated me most was the pulse monitor. Her pulse always seemed very high, but Ashley's mom reassured me this was "normal" for premature babies and it was OK.
One day, I came to visit Ashley and her mom. Her mom had the biggest smile on her face. She couldn't wait to tell me the news.
That day, she would get to touch Ashley for the first time since her birth. As the mom gently put one finger through the holes of the incubator, I thought about all the nurses who had used those same holes for so many months to deliver medicine and care for Ashley.
This time, however, those holes would be used to deliver the touch and the care of a parent.
As Ashley's mom began to stroke her child with just one finger, my eyes glanced at the pulse monitor. Ashley's pulse was slower and calmer. As soon as Ashley's mom removed her touch, Ashley's pulse went up again.
The touch of a parent, even in an incubator, could calm a distressed child.
Many times, I am reminded of that lesson when I begin to think about God being our parent. God reaches down to us, holds out his loving arms and surrounds us to calm us, to give us strength and peace.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, when we are afraid, when the chaos of life overcomes us, I invite us to remember God does indeed reach out to us. I invite us to remember God holds us in his loving arms and brings us peace. God touches our hearts to remind us that in him we can do all things and we need not be afraid because he is with us always.
May this Lenten season be a time of repenting, returning and reuniting with our loving God who is a parent who meets us where we are, always providing for us steadfast love and mercy.
The Rev. Lesley Radius is pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hays.