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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Today’s Reading | Romans 8:31–39

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,

   “For your sake we are being killed all day long;
    we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NRSV)

Most of my earliest memories learning about God and faith came from my grandmother. When we would visit my great-aunt on the South Carolina coast, my grandmother and I would get up early and sneak out to walk along the beach at sunrise. As we watched the wonder of nature unfolding, she would talk to me about the power and love of God. Her favorite story to tell me was the Footprints poem, in which a man walks along the beach with God and learns that God is always with him—even carrying him in the hardest moments.

That poem has been so ubiquitous that I think most people tend to roll their eyes about it. But I have always been fond of it, because of the circumstance in which I learned it. Staring out into the vast Atlantic, walking hand in hand with me, my Nana would tell me that God is always with us. She told me that even if I were all the way across the ocean, God would still be with me. And she told me that in the hardest moments of life, I wouldn’t always be able to feel God, but God would still be there, hand in my hand. Those words registered deep in my soul, and I carry them with me still.

There are certainly times when it seems that powerful forces are stacked against us. In the face of such forces—illness, loss, oppression—we can feel small, powerless, and alone. But the assurance of God is that we are never alone. None of those forces can overcome the powerful love of God that holds us in holy embrace. Let us learn this truth so well that it feels ubiquitous. Let us feel its comfort like the warm hand of a beloved grandmother. Let us stare out at the ocean of life and trust in a love that is bigger even than that.

Steadfast God, we give thanks that you hold us always in love. Help us to know and trust in your abiding presence, especially in the times when we feel most powerless and alone. Help us to reflect such steadfast love to one another. Amen.

Written by Layton Williams, Pastoral Resident

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