Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha’Olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tizivanu al sefirat ha’Omer.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has sanctified us with your commandments and commanded us to count the Omer.
Today is thirty-eight days, which is five weeks and three days of the Omer.
We are now in week six of our counting the Omer. This week's spiritual attribute is Yesod, bonding.
Bonding is the ultimate emotional connection. While the first five qualities (love, discipline, compassion, endurance and humility) are interactive, they manifest duality: the lover and the beloved, the one providing discipline to the one being discipled, the one in authority and the one humbly submitting. Each of the previous qualities is comprised of two separate entities in relationship. This week we will bind two parts into one, attaching one item to another.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world." John 17:20-24 NIV
Bonding is using the other qualities to unite ourselves with others, not as a casual partnership, but in complete devotion of one to another, inseparable, an everlasting commitment: husband to wife, parent to child, brother to brother/sister, and sometimes in close friendships. Bonding enables a person's emotional needs be met while allowing us to flourish and grow. Through our bonds we gain confidence, worth and significance, knowing our lives matter to others.
Several years ago a friend and neighbor had a baby boy born 17 weeks prematurely. Our sons were young and in their innocence could not understand the health risks for a baby born so early. Faithfully each night we prayed for God to make "baby Grant strong and healthy."
Having worked for a time in the neonatal intensive care unit at our hospital, I knew parents would not be able to hold, or touch their precious infant because the skin is so thin that the slightest pressure may cause the baby intense pain. Knowing bonding is crucial for an infant to thrive, our friends prayed for the Father to hold their baby close to His chest, letting their son feel His love until Grant could be held in their own arms.
See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and He rules with a mighty arm. See, His reward is with Him, and His recompense accompanies Him. He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:10-11 NIV
As the days and weeks passed, baby Grant continued to thrive and was eventually healthy enough to go home to his parents, although with strict orders to keep him away from other children and those who might be ill. As our friends drove home that joyful day, there was one detour they had to make. My friend's mother adamantly protested, reminding her daughter and son-in-law of the doctors orders. Without reservation, our friend stated, "We will stop so the boys who prayed for Grant can celebrate in his home coming!"
Even though our sons had never seen baby Grant, their faithful prayers had developed with love, compassion and commitment to humbly seek God's favor to provide everything the baby needed to grow. Those simple prayers everyday for baby Grant also taught our sons that God answers honest prayer.
I call on You, my God, for You will answer me; turn Your ear to me and hear my prayer. Show me the wonders of Your great love, You who save by Your right hand those who take refuge in You from their foes. Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings. Psalm 17:6-8 NIV
Several years later, my friend told me a story about a similar premature infant whose parents had prayed for God to hold their daughter, the baby they could not. When the daughter was about five years old, the mother found her standing, eyes closed, nose in the air, savoring the fresh air provided by a recent rain shower.
"Do you smell him?" the young girl asked.
"Smell who?" the mother inquired. The answer reminded the mother of her prayer, spoken just a few years before, when only One could hold her infant in the NICU incubator.
Abba Father, You draw us to Yourself so we may experience Your love and compassion. Every day You tenderly care for Your children, especially when we cannot care for ourselves, providing all we need and so much of the things we want. Bind us with Your eternal "cords of kindness and and ties of love" (Hosea 11:4) leading us in the way everlasting. Help us live in unity with each other, encouraging the weak, caring for the sick, and helping those less fortunate than ourselves. As we strive to emulate these qualities in our lives, bind our children to Yourself and shape them with these qualities, in the image of Your loving Son, our Savior and the Good Shepherd. Strengthen our family bonds and the cords of friendship, so You may be glorified. Amen