Today, going over this message I once gave on Mother’s Day in 2015 blew me away… I needed to read this once again… to see the way God has THE BEST MOTHER HEART (He created mothers after all!!)
Maybe you need this today too…?
(I changed some of the language to reflect that it’s now 2020 and no longer 2015 but I may have missed spots.)
God, our Almighty Nurturer and Protector
Merri Ellen Giesbrecht
Originally presented on: May 10, 2015
Topic: Mother’s Day
Texts: Isaiah 46:3-4; Isaiah 49:15; Isaiah 66:13; 2 Cor 1:3,4; Psalm 91:4; Psalm 57:1; Deuteronomy 32:10-11
Theme: God is our Almighty Nurturer and Protector
My Aim: I pray you may know that God is like a protective mother and He longs to have you come and nestle into His lap, to draw nourishment from him, to learn to soar under His wings and to catch you when you fall. I pray you may notice and receive God’s loving nurture and to be motivated to show His love to others.
Key words: Nurturer and Protector
Visuals: 2 buckets, shield, rocking chair, baby bottle, picture of an eagle
Intro: One summer my parents asked their neighbour to water their garden while they were on vacation. The neighbour would come in the early evening and turn on the garden hose and was then to return sometime later to turn it off. One night, he forgot to turn off the hose. Thankfully the house was not next to the garden or there would have been a flooded basement. The only result my parents saw was a summer of enormous carrots and zucchinis and tomatoes… and they feasted as a result.
This message was one God had been preaching to me for several months in 2015. It had been so powerful for me, it felt like God left on the garden hose. I have 2 buckets (2 themes) to share with you what I noticed… My prayer is that the fruit of God’s message to me will not only bring me nourishment but you as well.
Bucket Number 1.
God is our Almighty Nurturer; El Shaddai. (He nourishes us.)
One day in 2015 while praying, God reminded me of a childhood memory…
When I was 11 years old, I was asked to speak in my home church on Mother’s Day. It was a small church in the Canadian prairies. Our pastor may have thought I’d give a tribute to my mother. (Which makes me giggle now seeing as I was a strong-willed child. Perhaps this was his way of making me say ‘thank you’ to my mom publicly in the midst of her ongoing parenting battles. My mom deserves a medal. I love her so much. She’s been my primary example of God’s nurturing heart to me.)
This time in front of my church family, I felt a nudge to speak on the nurturing heart of God and how we see a picture of His loving care through the gift of motherhood…and yet how He cares for us all and calls all of us to share His care with others.
After I shared my bit as a little girl, later I spoke to a woman in a wheel chair. She couldn’t speak and once was a powerful, energetic missionary for many years in Madagascar. Lillian was a part of my church fellowship in Saskatchewan now being cared for by a Care Giver named Delinda. Lillian was one of my prayer warriors who faithfully prayed for me. I knew this. Yet, never had the joy of conversation with her. I only met her when she was in this wheel chair, paralyzed, and without speech due to a virus she contracted in the jungles of Madagascar. When I see her in heaven, I can’t wait to visit with her!
On that particular day, I went to Lillian after feeling the nudge. I leaned down and whispered in her ear: “Happy Mother’s Day Lillian! I know you don’t have biological children of your own but I know you were a mother to many!” I was not ready for the emotion and flood of tears that came from her face. Delinda later said that it was the best thing I could have said to her. Years later, after I have discipled hundreds of children myself along with their parents, I can imagine why!
How wonderful that we love, serve and worship a God who is so compassionate. And we are created in His image.
Today is Mother’s Day and yes, we get to honour our mothers. Yet, we honour mothers only because we love, serve and worship God who is loving and compassionate like a Mother.
God gives us the gift of motherhood and He gives all of us the ability to share His compassionate and nurturing heart with others.
What a beautiful thing to ponder that God would call a woman who would never bare children of her own and turn her into a mother of many in the jungles of Madascar. Who knows what all He did through Lillian! And talk about His mercy, to nudge me as an 11 year old little girl to speak to a woman confined to her wheelchair. But, I see that she needed to hear …from a child, an intentional ‘thank you’, much like we parents love it when our children thank us and return our love, as well as a ‘thank you’ from God, Almighty who called her as a missionary in the first place.
God, who is called El Shaddai…
‘El’ means Almighty and ‘Shaddai’ is a word that draws a picture of what happens in the very back of a nursing room where moms go and feed their babies. God is our Shaddai – He nourishes us like a mom feeds her baby. He is our Almighty Nurturer. He gives us safe nourishment.
God’s parental tenderness is beautifully expressed in the picture of motherhood.
Let me show you from the Word…
Isaiah 66:13 (ERV)
“I will comfort you like a mother comforting her child.
You will be comforted in Jerusalem.”
Psalm 131:2,3 (NLT)
“I have calmed and quieted myself,
like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.
Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, put your hope in the Lord—
now and always.”
My son one day was giving me one of his wonderful hugs and he said to me: “Mom, I love the place in your arms.”
God longs for us to say the same to Him. He invites us to nestle into His arms and to receive His goodness, His nourishment, His love.
Isaiah 49:15 (NLT)
“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child?
Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible,
I would not forget you!”
“Jesus refers to His deep compassion for us by using the metaphor of Himself as a mother hen.”- Dr Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages
Matthew 23:37 (ERV)
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets. You stone to death those that God has sent to you. Many, many times I wanted to help your people. I wanted to gather them together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you did not let me.”
God sends us messengers to show His love and compassion much like He did for Israel, and too often we aren’t listening – in fact – it’s possible to cut off the messenger! We know that in some parts of the world, prophets today are being killed. Are you listening for His message?
Do you read His Word daily so you can hear His voice? Or do you kill His voice in your life by never opening His Word, and choosing something else to fill your mind? Or maybe you are quicker to choose entertainment before you ever read His Word. God Almighty longs to speak to us and yet, we often shut Him up.
Yet, notice how God loves and longs to carry us through all stages of our life! Whether we have no hair, tons of hair, grey hair, or no hair…
Isaiah 46:3-4 (ERV)
“Family, listen! I have carried you since you left your mother’s womb. I carried you when you were born, and I will still be carrying you when you are old. Your hair will turn gray, and I will still carry you. I made you, and I will carry you to safety.”
In God’s incredible power, He even uses our troubling stages of life to bring comfort to others. In fact, I have found that those who have experienced the most hardship are the ones whose compassion runs the deepest. Once we come to the end of ourselves, we can certainly be used by God, for His glory.
Years ago, I had one terrible viral infection which affected my ability to focus. I couldn’t even focus my mind enough to read a book. I slept lots and when I didn’t sleep, I stared out the window. I was in bed for 10 days from April 13-23, 2015.
My oldest son asked me how I was feeling and I was lamenting that I was feeling terrible and to top it off, it was so gorgeous out. It was baseball weather and I longed to be playing ball! He then tells me that maybe Jesus wants to use this…that Jesus can take the worst things and turn them into something great. J This as many of you know, is MY HOPE CHILD whose birth brought me hope and protection during a very difficult time in my life! Then he says, “I think your son just preached you a good sermon.” I stood in shock and then gave him the biggest hug. God spoke to me through him in that moment. God used my own son to bring me comfort. That was the Holy Spirit at work in my own son!
My son’s words reminded me of one of my favourite passages when the Apostle Paul himself felt at the end of his rope…in a much greater desperation than any viral infection could give…
2 Cor 1:3-4 ERV
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Father who is full of mercy, the God of all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble so that when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us.”
We can comfort others because God comforts us.
Again, God’s parental tenderness is beautifully expressed in the picture of motherhood. And as I just illustrated, parents can equally be blessed by God’s compassion through their children. The Holy Spirit does not discriminate. I recall once listening to a man who is called on to do peace and reconciliation between countries and parties who are killing each other. His wife is a Kindergarten teacher and he often goes and sits in her class to be blessed by the children. I can relate. Young children bring us comfort.
Here are some questions for you to ponder…
How do you need to invite Jesus to be your El Shaddai, your Almighty Nurturer this morning?
Where in your life do you need His comfort and care?
Or who in your life desperately needs His comfort and care?
And how is God calling you to show His love and care to them?
Bucket Number 1.
God is our Almighty Nurturer; El Shaddai. (He longs to gather us in His arms, comfort and nourish us.)
Bucket Number 2.
God is our Protector (He Gives us the shelter of His Wings)
Beginning in February 2015, God had been preaching to me this 2nd theme…
It seemed that every conversation I had with women in that time, there was grief, despair, illness, anxiety, depression… it became overwhelming… I would go off and pray calling out to God for help, for strength… I love to pray outside in God’s creation…it’s where I feel closest to Him – away from distraction. Over and over I would see eagles flying. By the 3rd or 4th time, I finally clued in and asked God what I could learn from this. Many of you already know where this is going…
All through Scripture, you’ll see a theme, a phrase describing God like an eagle who shelters us with His wings… (feel free to jot down the references if you wish as I will be listing a few off…)
Psalm 17:8 (ESV)
“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.”
Ruth 2:12 (NIV)
“May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
Psalm 36:7 (NIV)
“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
Psalm 57:1 (NIV)
“When David had fled from King Saul into the cave. Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”
Psalm 63:7 (NIV)
“Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.”
Psalm 91:4 (NIRV)
“He will cover you with his wings.
Under the feathers of his wings you will find safety.
He is faithful. He will keep you safe like a shield or a tower.”
Through Scripture, God is pictured as an eagle with wings that provide safety and protection.
God was reminding me that He was covering me and women around me, my sisters in Christ. He was saying, “I’ve got you covered.”
The passage that stood out the most for me was…
Deuteronomy 32:10-11 (NiRV)
“The Lord found Israel in a desert.
He found them in an empty and windy land.
He took care of them and kept them safe.
He guarded them as he would guard his own eyes.
He was like an eagle that stirs up its nest.”
It hovers over its little ones.
It spreads out its wings to catch them.
It carries them up in the air on its feathers.”
You’ll notice something incredible in this passage. Not only is it a reminder of God’s love for wandering and complaining Israel who got themselves lost in a desert on a journey that could’ve taken only 40 days but instead took 40 years because they did not fully trust God’s navigational skills… You’ll notice how it applies to you and I.
The eagle’s care for her young is a beautiful picture of Christ’s love, who spread out His wings on the cross, who came to bare your sins and mine in his own body, who swept down and caught us when we were falling.
You and I left the nest and He caught us when we fell. 700 years before Christ came to rescue us…
Isaiah wrote chapter 40- which starts off with… “Comfort, oh comfort my people…” and ends with this…in verse 31…
“Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.”
Through the Good News and by the power of the Holy Spirit who is called our Comforter, He is here, so that you and I fly free – if we fully put our trust in Him, allowing His wings to cover …to comfort and to rescue us. Because of Him, we find safety and triumph, and we are able to fly above the world on his back and not fall into it. God offers us this protection daily …through the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
Jesus asked the Father to send us the Comforter to be with us forever.
John 14:16 (ASV)
“And I will pray to the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you forever.”
- In what way do you need to ask God for His safety and protection? For yourself or someone you love?
- What is God speaking to you? As I’m teaching from the Word, are there people or situations that come to mind? What is He saying?
- Maybe you need protection from a bully, or protection in a work place situation, or protection on a difficult health journey, protection over your failing finances, a failing relationship, over a wandering loved one…
I invite you to pray and truly turn your house into a House of Prayer – either asking God for more of His nurturing compassion or more of His safety and protection – for yourself and for your loved ones. Those of you who are visual, may want to picture yourself or your loved one – with one of these objects (a shield, rocking chair, baby bottle, picture of an eagle.) Then trust in the Word of God, His promises to give nurture and protection.
Pray – with 1 or 2 others, or pray on your own. Be okay with awkward silence. Just listen for God’s nudging. Be okay with not even saying a word if you feel out of your element today. That’s okay. You belong today. Others around you can pray…simply let their prayers comfort your own heart… Gather this morning in His arms, and under the shelter of His wings.
Dear friends, you are beautiful. You are mighty warriors this morning. You are family. We belong together under His wings.
Picture me right now with my hands up high about to pray a blessing over you. May you think of Jesus’ wingspan, His protection, His love on the cross for you!
My closing prayer for you:
I pray that every day you would trust in the Lord and find His new strength. That you would know this soaring high on wings like eagles. That you would so trust in His strength and comfort, that you will run without growing weary, you will walk and not faint, because you weren’t relying only on your human weakness.
I pray that you would stay close to our El Shaddai, our Almighty Nurturer, feasting on His Presence all through the stages of your life and nestling in close to His chest for comfort, from no hair, to grey hair, to no hair again!
…and then I pray, that you may share His love and protection with those He brings into your nest, into your area of influence. May the world be drawn to His love and protection because of you! I pray this over you, my brothers and sisters, in the name of Jesus, Amen!