God’s Loving Arms

by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff

A cartoon strip shows a little boy sitting with his grandmother looking at a picture of his grandfather, who had passed on. The little boy asks, “If we talk to Granddad, can he hear us in heaven?”

“Certainly, dear,” says Grandma, “I often tell Him how I miss him.”

The little boy looks heavenward and waving his hand says, “Hi, Granddad! It’s me — Jeffy! Grandma really misses you! Come visit her sometime. Okay? Bye!”

In the last panel of the cartoon, we see Grandma sitting on the bed and the transparent figure of Granddad with his arm around her. The little boy walks out of the room saying, “I don’t know if he heard me or not.”

Many times we do not feel as if God has heard us; we are not even sure He is around. But, just like the message of this cartoon, no prayer or request goes unanswered. The moment we ask for help, it is given us. God is holding us gently in His Arms, supporting us. The Course uses the metaphor of our being held in God’s Arms to help us not only feel comforted, “…I am safe forever in His Arms.” (W-235), but to remind us of our purpose . . .“I am a messenger of God, directed by His Voice, sustained by Him in love, and held forever quiet and at peace within His loving Arms.” (W-267) As we remember our purpose as God’s messenger, the idea of ever being alone or disconnected from God becomes impossible.

An Impossible Mission?

We say we want to hear God’s Voice or know God’s Will for us, but it often seems like an impossible mission or at best a “sometimes yes, sometimes no” mission. Often we feel that He is selective in His listening and helping. He only doles out support to those on whom He smiles — you know, the less messed-up among us. We have forgotten that God is an equal opportunity listener.

The issue is not His listening, but our willingness. Now, our willingness may seem waning at times, as if it takes way too much effort to join with God, but the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. If you feel overwhelmed today, you simply must start with the smallest step. You might say: “Help me, Father, to start again” . . . “Help me to relax” . . . “Let me remember I am Your child in whom You are well pleased” . . . or any similar thought that comes to mind. Even a simple, “Help” will do. The words are not the concern; they only indicate to us that we want another way.

After all, God does not hear our words but rather the prayer of our hearts. God doesn’t see our mess, He sees our truth (the gift we already are), and He gently points us to our potential, not our problems.

What is our potential?

A Course in Miracles leads us on a journey — a journey to what and where we have always been. As it says, “The journey to God is merely the reawakening of the knowledge of where you are always, and what you are forever. It is a journey [to God, to what we are] without distance to a goal that has never changed.” (T-8.VI.9:6)

We don’t go anywhere physically, but we do change our minds. As the Course tells us, “Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all.” (W-188) It is the recognition or the change of mind about who we are. We are not alone in all the universe, nor do we awaken to our reality alone. We need each other and most importantly we need God’s Help in remembering we are worthy of love.

Whose treasure are we?

I have always found such comfort in the parable of the prodigal son from the Bible, because I feel it reinforces the love of God. Are you aware that the Course tells this parable as well? Let me share it . . .

“Listen to the story of the prodigal son, and learn what God’s treasure is and yours: This son of a loving father left his home and thought he had squandered everything for nothing of any value, although he had not understood its worthlessness at the time. He was ashamed to return to his father, because he thought he had hurt him. Yet when he came home the father welcomed him with joy, because the son himself was his father’s treasure. He wanted nothing else.” (T-8.VI.4)

This is such a comforting message from the Course expressing how much we are loved by our Father. It is a love that has nothing to do with what we have done or have not done, a love that is so encompassing that in its presence all illusions we hold about ourselves or others simply fade away, for in the presence of truth there can be no illusions.

We are God’s treasure and therefore each other’s treasure. Although to experience the treasure we are and the love that is so healing, we have to stop running away from God. We run away from God every time we hold a grievance against another or ourselves, whenever we feel alone and isolated, or whenever we feel anxious or depressed. These emotions are all ways we reinforce our seeming reality in fear and thereby close ourselves off from our potential and our treasure. But we can never truly run away from God, for His love is all around us. When we finally realize this, we can stop our running. There is no use to run, for there is nowhere “to” run; we are in God’s loving Arms always.

Are you a runaway bunny?

When I became a mother, I was given the opportunity to be exposed to classic “baby” literature. You know, Goodnight Moon, Guess How Much I Love You, The Wheels on the Bus and, of course, Runaway Bunny. Most parents know Runaway Bunny, and they always nod with a knowing smile when the title is mentioned. After I read it (which takes about two minutes), I understood why they smiled.

Runaway Bunny is about a little bunny that runs away from his mother. Wherever the bunny goes, however, his mother is right there. Here’s how it goes . . .

Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away. So he said to his mother, “I am running away.”
“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.”
“If you run after me,” said the little bunny, “I will become a fish in a trout stream and I will swim away from you.”
“If you become a fish in a trout stream,” said his mother, “I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.”
“If you become a fisherman,” said the little bunny, “I will be a bird and fly away from you.”
“If you become a bird and fly away from me,” said his mother, “I will be a tree that you come home to.”
“If you become a tree,” said the little bunny, “I will become a little sailboat, and I will sail away from you.”
“If you become a sailboat and sail away from me,” said his mother, “I will become the wind and blow you where I want you to go.” . . .

As you can see, the bunny tries hard to run away, but each time his mother finds a way to stay with him, reminding him always that she is with him. We are much like that bunny; we try desperately to run away from God. We may not become a fish or a bird, but we make distorted images of ourselves, images we believe will take us further and further away from God. We make ourselves calculating, distant, distracted, dispassionate, uncaring, unloving, depressed, incompetent, etc., and think in some way that keeps us away from God and His Love. Perhaps we are now yearning to get back to His Love and Help, but we really don’t know how. We think we have been gone so long, done so many terrible things, are simply not worthy, and so on. Well, Runaway Bunny continues . . .

“If you become the wind and blow me,” said the bunny, “I will become a little boy and run into a house.”
“If you become a little boy and run into a house,” said the mother bunny, “I will become your mother and catch you in my arms and hug you.”
“Shucks,” said the bunny, “I might just as well stay where I am and be your little bunny.”
And so he did.

The bunny found his way back, it was through the awareness that there was never a time or place where he could be absent from his mother’s love. This is the awareness that must dawn on our minds, and will, if we simply stop running and look straight at the challenges of life and know we are safe in God’s loving Arms.

“Father, Your way is what I choose today. Where it would lead me do I choose to go; what it would have me do I choose to do. Your way is certain, and the end secure. The memory of You awaits me there. And all my sorrows end in Your embrace, which You have promised to Your Son, who thought mistakenly that he had wandered from the sure protection of Your loving Arms.” (W-317)

How do we tie it together?

Intellectually knowing we are worthy of God’s love and knowing we are with Him always is a start, but experiencing that is quite another thing. How do we tie it all together? The Course explains:

“There is no question but one you should ever ask of yourself; — ‘Do I want to know my Father’s Will for me?’ He will not hide it. He has revealed it to me [Jesus] because I asked it of Him, and learned of what He had already given. Our function is to work together, because apart from each other we cannot function at all. The whole power of God’s Son lies in all of us, but not in any of us alone. … We cannot be separated. Whom God has joined cannot be separated, and God has joined all His Sons with Himself.” (T-8.VI.8)

We are told again that we cannot run away from God for we are tied to Him, joined in love. And, we are joined with each other, for that is God’s Will. You cannot know who you are or your value while you hold one aspect or part of the Sonship as separate from you. If we do so, we will not know God’s Will for us, feel his loving Arms surrounding us, hear His Voice, know our true potential, or be able to function at all.

We do not have to be perfect in our attempts; we just need to be willing to know God’s Will for us.

Let us not run away from His Will. Ask yourself, “Do I want to know my Father’s Will for me?” Your willingness to say “yes” means you are willing to face those limiting thoughts, knowing you are God’s treasure. You are willing to face those seemingly “justified” attacks you have made, knowing they have not changed God’s opinion of you. You are willing to give those who walk this world with you some compassion and understanding, knowing this will be the gift you receive the moment it is given. And, in doing so, you will remember…

… all my sorrows end in Your [God’s] embrace, which You have promised to Your Son, who thought mistakenly that he had wandered from the sure protection of Your loving Arms.” (W-317)

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