When I long to be held by human arms

The room was cold.

“Oh well, better cold than hot for sleeping.”

I crawled into bed bringing the covers snuggly to my nose, leaving only eyes exposed to the elements. My feet quickly cocooned themselves in the down comforter. I lay on my side, knees bent, arms clutching a pillow. Everything was customary. But something was wrong. It took me a minute, but then I remembered; I was on my left side.

“Quick Lovee, huddle for warmth!” 

His strong arms circled me, his knees tucked behind mine. He held me close, heat radiating against my back from his very solid, very physical presence. He prayed aloud. There was security. We lay that way for awhile, content.

“Ok switch.” 

He rolled over, and I turned also, both of us now on our right sides, my knees tucked behind his knees. I held him close. And he was asleep within seconds, his chest rising and falling in a slow, gentle rhythm. I nestled behind him, warm and secure. Night after night we followed this pattern. He held me for awhile. Then I held him. Then he fell asleep. And I lay there soaking in his warmth, taking in every detail. Finally I slept.

But I have not started the night on my left side for almost two years. Perhaps it hurts too much to imagine him there behind me, knowing the reality that he’s not. Who am I kidding? It hurts regardless which side I face. I guess last night, however, realization hit me square in the eyes; what used to be such an integral part of my life no longer feels customary.

As I lay there on my left side, I welcomed the sorrow. Sometimes that’s an ok thing. Sometimes it’s a necessary thing. Nobody tells you that grief even affects the side upon which you sleep.

“Lord, how long must I be alone? Please be near me. Help me to know the security of your presence when I long to be held by human arms.”

As I continued to pray, peace flooded in, remarkable and true. I was warm and secure. I knew the very real presence of the Lord; God was near. Sleep was not an unwilling guest that lingered in the shadows. Rather, it came sweetly, and I drifted off without turning over.

I have learned much about dwelling in the presence of God. Let me say it this way, I have learned to be aware. Tragedy and grief taught me to run to Christ, to slow down, to listen, to hear His voice echo from the pages of His word, to know the comfort of the Holy Spirit, to know that my heart and mind can be guarded with incomparable peace. (Philippians 4:6)

Likewise, prayer has become a continuous, flowing conversation. I’m learning to talk to God through the mundane: showering, driving, folding laundry. And I’m learning to talk to Him when my heart is filled with sorrow. Or anger. Or fear. It’s totally safe because I have a great High Priest who intercedes for me.

Through Jesus, I have unlimited access to the Father, and I can run to Him with any emotion. He is big enough.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:15-16

Though I once was a stranger, by the blood of Christ I have been brought near. (Ephesians 2:13) Therefore, I may come boldly. I can expect grace. I can expect mercy. To be near Him, is to be in His very presence.

Through Jesus’ finished work, the Holy Spirit comforts. He draws near. He hears my pleas, and perfects my weak, inept, and often selfish prayers.

And so I say with confidence “Before the throne God above, I have a strong and perfect plea. A great High Priest whose name is Love, who ever lives and pleads for me. My name is written on His hand. My name is graven on His heart. I know that while in heaven, He stands, no tongue can bid me thence depart.”

Yet it is not every night that I welcome peace so easily. Sometimes, I must wrestle. Sometimes I must cry out. Sometimes the longing for human touch seems much more real than the presence of God.

I don’t pray perfectly. But I have Someone who does. When I long to be held by human arms, He reminds me that His arms are stronger, His security infinite. He holds me close. The safety He offers is far beyond what my husband had the ability to give.

He is near.


This post by Ami appeared first at anewseason.net

Before the Throne ©1997 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP)

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6 thoughts on “When I long to be held by human arms

  1. Thank you sweet Ami! I am getting closer to the 1st anniversary of my husbands passing…December 17. Your story is so much my story and your words of God are so needed today. Today has been my hardest day yet. I cannot breathe or think straight. I am so sad and wrecked by heartache. I so miss his arms and warmth and snuggles especially in bed. Yet I must believe that God is even more able to supply all my needs. Thank you! I praise God for you Kim

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    1. Kim, thank you. I pray so fervently as I write that God would use the words He gives me to strengthen and encourage. They come straight from the lessons God teaches me. Oh dear sister, I do so understand the days where it feels like you can’t breathe or think straight. And it is ok for you to be weak. It’s ok to have the heartache. Because Christ says that when we are weak he is strong. I think it’s a fallacy to say that we “must be strong.” He is our strength. The deep days are fewer and farther between for me these days, but they still hit sometimes. Last year as I approached the first Christmas without Jon, and 1st anniversary of his death (January 25th) a close friend told me. “Expect grace.” Just that simple phrase really helped me to look for grace and be astonished by the ways that God gave it. Grace is so tangible. Yes, both of those days were hard, but God really did meet me there. And He will for you too. I wrote about Christmas and the 1 year anniversary last year on my blog. Perhaps those would bless you as well? Praying for you. And understanding the depth of pain with you.

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  2. Today would have been my 20th Wedding Anniversary – my first without Pete…. I am overcome with sorrow and gratefulness simultaneously.. your post was so sweet, not because we cuddled for warmth (although we used to shock each other with the occasional cold foot looking for a reprieve:). but because…what I miss the most was looking at him while he slept. I miss it so much I could burst… Thank you for sharing your journey Ami.. it helps this weary widow..

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    1. Micki, my heart aches with you. Anniversaries and holidays can be so hard-especially the firsts. I wept a lot on both wedding anniversaries since Jon’s death. On both I pulled out our box of memories and watched our wedding video- just to see him alive, laughing and talking to me. But there was much grace on both also. Praying for you today. Praying that God’s grace would be tangible, that He would astonish you with comfort. I’m thankful He’s already given you the joy of beautiful memories amid the sorrow. It’s ok to be sad. He’ll meet you there. And I so relate to looking at my husband while he slept– I just loved to memorize the smell and softness of his hair, the freckle under his left eye. And cold feet-always a fun way to push each others’ buttons 🙂

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