The Lord is on my side as my helper Psalm 118:7 ESV

 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So, we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:6 ESV

Have you noticed those therapy animals that accompany people on airplanes or in stores like Home Depot?  Their role is to provide emotional support and comfort. Knowing that this beloved and reassuring creature is always with them helps people face whatever stresses or scares them.

We believers have something better than a support animal. We have Jesus. In one way our Lord is similar to the four-legged friend; he has committed to being with us as long as he lives, which is forever. Beyond that, the comparison changes to how Jesus is so much more. 

For one, he knows our thoughts and he understands our heart. He has already planned the events of our today. He promises to provide not just comforting companionship, but wisdom, strength, guidance, protection, rest, safety and instruction.  He truly has our best interests at heart.

The only ‘drawback’ if any, is that we have to practice using our creative imagination to picture Jesus with us. We can’t reach out and feel him as we do when we rub our hands through the fur of an animal friend.  But Jesus won’t die on us.  We are and will be always with him and he with us.

In the last few weeks, I have been guiding my imagination to picture Jesus.  I have picked our ‘encounter’ location to be, what is for me, the most beautiful spot in the world – a Northern Italian alpine meadow.

I visualize meeting Jesus in a summer-day’s field, surrounded by mountains.  Cattle, with their tinkling bells, and sheep peacefully graze.  I’m either sitting on a bench with Jesus or we’re walking along an unpaved rural road – wide enough for a tractor or an agricultural truck, used only by local traffic such as farmers.

In this part of catholic Europe, you sometimes come upon small roadside shrines off to one side.  The other day while walking with Jesus he stopped as we came upon one of those way-side rustic altars.  Jesus turned to me and indicated that I was to lay down my burdens. So, I placed some worries on the altar.  With a pointed gaze he prompted me to continue

“Do you mean I should place my longings there as well?”  He nodded. I paused, “And my ‘sads’ and disappointments?” Again, that gentle assent.

My hands still held onto one more burden, my fears for the future, specifically what I and we might have to do for my declining mother-in-law. She lives on the other side of the country, with no family nearby. 

“Especially those!” came his response.

With empty hands I backed away. He smiled warmly, approval in his eyes.  Then he hoisted me up on his broad shoulders to carry me.  We resumed our walk.  What was I now to do with my hands, since I had emptied them back there at that altar?  Before an answer formed in my head, Jesus reached up and clasped them tightly. 

As we continued walking together down the road, both of us soaking in the beauty of Alpine Italy that he had created, I felt the comforting top of his backpack underneath my perch.  Besides carrying me, he had brought along all that I would need for the day in a small rucksack.  My daily supply lay close by.

Reassured, I started salivating, thinking about enjoying a chunk of warm, fresh Italian bread.