Monday, August 27, 2012

Holding Our Arms

Shortly after Esther was diagnosed a couple from our church wrote us an email that I've read several times.  We were blessed by their hearts for our lives and the empathy in their words.  One of the things they said is that they are here, to hold up our arms.

Not the same image, but similar.
I instantly remembered an image from a Sunday school lesson I taught a while back.  I've always loved the picture.  Moses had burden to bear, but he couldn't do it himself.  Two men accompanied Moses up a hill to survey a battle below.  They knew no one else could carry the weight of the burden, but they could help.  They would support Moses.  They would give him a place to sit and they would come close to him, one on either side, and hold up his arms. 

In Exodus 17 the Israelites were in a battle that began early in the morning.  Moses, his brother Aaron, and another man, Hur, climbed a hill to watch the battle.  Moses told the leader of his army that he would stand at the top of the hill with the staff of God.  Exodus 17:11-12 says, "Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun."

I imagine when Moses first climbed the hill and surveyed the battle going on before him, he was not naive to the potential for loss in the valley below.  His friends, his family, the people he was leading, were fighting with swords, some would die. He also knew that his help, and the help of His people, comes only from the Lord.  He lifted his arms, held the wooden staff high, seeking the Lord's blessing over the battle, his arms were strong, steady.  After a while his arms began to shake, sweat beading upon his brow, he was reminded of the frailty of human strength. 

As the staff lowered, the enemy began to prevail.  He saw his people being overtaken, killed. This was a burden he could not bear alone.  His friends gave him a rock to sit upon, drew intimately close, and held up his arms.  What I love about this is the tenderness in Aaron & Hur's care.  Moses wasn't the one who said he needed a rock to sit up.  He was focused on the battle, on holding up his arms.  He wasn't looking around for the solution.  Those men saw his need and just responded.  They rolled up a boulder and got right next to him.  He didn't shoo them away insisting he could manage. Moses received it.

The frailty of human strength is vivid as the adrenaline has worn off, and we are tired.  Our arms are weak, and it's not yet noon.  We would absolutely lose the battle without people coming right next to us and holding our arms.  So many have held up our arms, surveyed our circumstances and responded...surprise fundraisers, eager friends who have completely stepped in to take responsibilities I could never manage.  Words of encouragement and snippets of truth have been salve for dry lips.  Generous gifts and acts of service are a place for us to sit and rest.  We are blessed to have family and friends willing to come next to us and hold up our arms.  We praise the Lord for your lives, your hearts and the arms holding us up.

We've been home for 10 days.  That is the longest stretch of time we've been together since early June.  It has been both refreshing and unreal.  Our lives are different now, and it feels strange to just pick up the old routine.  The reality of the emotional and mental exhaustion has become acute, but it has been unifying to just be together. 
We're still battling colds.  Anthony and Rourke are yet to be sick.  A praise or worry that it just hasn't hit them yet?  Esther's ANC was over 10,000 today, so once again, God was so kind in arming Esther with stem cells to fight off a cold.  She's been having some bad bloody noses, and her platelets are low.  We'll check on Wednesday to see if she needs a platelet transfusion.   

We're looking forward to Anthony's brother, Kyle, to arrive on Wednesday and the older three kids will have their first day of our home school program, Classical Conversations, on Friday.  Please pray we are all healthy to be able to go.  I think we will all grieve if they have to miss out on their first day, they are so looking forward to it.  We even started some school today.  It was completely unorganized, but the kids didn't care.  All of those planning books/charts are really just a way for me to think I'm actually in control... They were happy to write their numbers, do some math, read and discuss a poem from Rourke's writing lesson.  

As I type this I am humbled by the ways our arms have been held.  Today would not have been possible if I had to manage everything on my own.  Our laundry was picked up dirty and returned neatly folded and clean, our house is being regularly cleaned and meals are a way to give us a few more hours to just be with our kids. Our weary arms are thankful to rest in your strength and love. 


  1. This made me cry. So thankful for the saints who have come alongside you. Love you, Sam! We will continue to pray! and I would love to come get your laundry sometime soon : )