We were at Carlsbad Community Church one day, a long time ago. It was on the south side facing Chase Field, and all the buses had come for the high schoolers…Michael, and Chad, and Cindy, and Daisy…Dad was running around campus taking care of the administrative stuff, and mom wasn’t there. It’s all a blur now, I just remember there were dozens of intimidating high school kids covered in duct tape, shouting, music, and six-year-old me was feeling lost in the mix.Then all the sudden I heard a voice behind me and I looked up. I saw Uncle Ryan, my giant: ten feet tall and twenty-something years old, jet black hair, the biggest smile, and kindest most comforting eyes in the world.Apparently I looked just as lost as I felt. Because–I remember, as clear as day–he walked up to me, spread his arms out over me and laughed, saying, “Stay under my wings, Annabelle! I’m protecting you!” And then he marched around me in circles laughing and talking about all the things a twenty-something-year-old guy talks about with a six-year-old girl. And he kept me company till the music and shouting stopped, till the bustle faded, and every last bus had gone.He took my whole world in his hands in that instant, and I felt so safe and so at home.Odd how things go. Life moves on so ruthlessly. I don’t really know Uncle Ryan anymore–he left my life a long time ago, and I didn’t even realize it when it happened.
And then came this morning, a decade later and three thousand miles away. Someone was blasting metal in the next dorm, people were shouting and laughing, the stress and pressure of school was weighing in. Sixteen-year-old me was feeling lost in the mix.
And so I prayed the first thing that came to mind, almost without thinking. I prayed, “God let me find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” And as the words came involuntarily out of my mouth, Uncle Ryan came sauntering back to me. I felt every bit six years old again. His arms were stretched out, and I craned my neck back to look up and see his smile, and in that moment I was safe again. Sitting on my dorm room floor, I heard God’s voice. He promised: “I will protect you. I will be your Uncle Ryan and so much more. Stay under my wings, Annabelle.”
I don’t know when I’ll see Uncle Ryan again, but in a round-about way, he showed me the Almighty today, and that’s a legacy that will stay with me till we meet up again in eternity.”
I thank God for Annabelle and her family. I thank God, that he wove this story together and had Annabelle send it to me on a day when my soul deeply needed to be encouraged.
Perhaps today is your day to protect and love. Perhaps today is your day to encourage someone.
Grace and Mercy,