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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Cling isn't accidental

Because he clings to Me in love, I will rescue him from harm; I will set him above danger.  Because he has known Me by name, He will call on Me, and I will answer.  I’ll be with him through hard times; I’ll rescue him and grant him honor.  I’ll reward him with many good years on this earth and let him witness My salvation.  (Psalm 91:14-16 VOICE)

These are God's words - his promises to keep us safe, rescue us when we are about to slip into some harmful pursuit, and to be attentive to our voice as we cry out to him in the honesty and integrity of heart willing to be open to him. They are words of commitment to those of commitment.  Nowhere does God say, "If you get it ALL right, I will be there for you."  In fact, these words imply something quite different, for we come upon harm, realize danger, finding ourselves needing to call out for rescue, and even counting on him for the extension of our days because we are not always in the right place, doing the right thing, open to hearing what he says the first time he says it, or aware of just how close we came to taking our last breath at times!

This passage is a summation of trust being placed in God and his joy at taking us under the safety of his wings as we face both things we are well-aware of and those things lurking in the darkness we just will never see. One who clings is "adhered to" so as to not allow any escape, nor allow any penetration of unwanted things inside.  I think of the cling wrap we can buy at the grocer to cover over our foods.  The purpose is to seal in and seal out - keeping food as fresh and useful to us as possible.  I have seen other very creative ideas for the use of these cling wraps, such as the binding up of that which might otherwise become marred as it passes through wherever it is bound.  It is commonly used in packing and moving industries as a means to secure, cover for protection, and keep from excessive movement during transit.

Thinking about the qualities of the cling wrap, I can see how God may tell us to cling to him.  You see, God is reminding us of the importance of clinging to him, so as to seal out that which will adversely affect us.  There are all manner of influences just vying for our attention - to get an inroad into our lives.  God's Spirit isn't magic for us, but when we draw close to him, close enough to be under the shadow of his wing, the Holy Spirit "seals" us.  He marks us out as his and he provides the protection we need to avoid the harmful influences which want that inroad.  A packer or mover may use the clingy sheet of plastic to wrap around the object in order to secure it during transit - keeping it from being marred, jostled so as to allow breakage, etc.  I don't think this is too dissimilar to the way God envelopes us in his arms - keeping us so tightly nestled into the security of his bosom that we don't get "jostled" by all that could possibly shake us up in life.

We may not realize this, but clinging isn't just a one-way thing.  The adherence comes because there is a waiting surface for the substance to cling to.  Cling wrap in the package is just cling wrap coiled up on itself.  Cling wrap over the surface of my potato salad in a serving bowl is transformed into the protective barrier it can be only because the bowl received the "cling" of the wrap.  The two actually come pretty close to being "one".  I think this is a vital image for us as we consider what it is to cling to God in the way he describes in this psalm. We see cling wrap, but we don't see the seal.  We appreciate the seal when we almost spill the substance out onto the floor and it remains securely in the bowl. We may not fully realize the seal we have with God, but when it comes to the point we are counting on that seal to keep us secure, it doesn't fail us!

One further consideration of what it means to truly cling.  Trust is a vague concept to some because we have had it violated more than it has been honored and kept.  It is like we see all relationships as generic cling wrap - not very trustworthy!  I have bought some pretty cheap cling wrap in my days, only to find it does a mediocre job at best of protecting whatever I expected it to cling to.  I pay a little extra now because I have seen the value in the right wrap! We might have placed our trust in things and / or people not so "reliable", leaving us feeling like we didn't want to trust anyone or anything much anymore. 

I encourage us to reconsider that stand, though.  What we might not realize is the idea of the cling wrap depending upon the surface it will be asked to cling to as much as the quality of the wrap itself.  Cling wrap just doesn't cling well to porous surfaces - it might try, but those tiny, uneven places actually allow for air, dust, and the like to "interfere" with the cling.  Sometimes it isn't the fault of the wrap which is to blame, but the surface.  God offers the best "wrap" possible, but we must have an "open surface" in order for the cling to actually make that full connection it so needs to be the absolute protection it is intended to be for us.  God isn't looking for perfection in us, but he is looking for us to make as much of ourselves open to receiving his connection as possible.  The greater the surface which is connected to his "covering", the greater the protection we experience.  It is a matter of opening up to him to trust him - even when we know our surface is a little more uneven or rougher than we might think he can deal with!  His protection is better than cling wrap - it is like bubble wrap, cling wrap and shrink wrap all combined! Just sayin!