A few weeks ago I got a lengthy voicemail message from a reader of my column.
At the end of the message he paused and said, “The Lord be with you.”
It wasn’t just a breezy way of saying goodbye. Rather, he was gently emphatic: “The Lord be with you.”
I can recall only one other time someone saying those words to me in that way.
Her name was Glenda. We lived in Yorba Linda, California, at the time, and she lived down the street.
I’m not sure how we met, maybe at church? Probably at church.
She had wild, curly hair and her husband was in a Christian rock band. This was in the early 1980s.
We were on the sidewalk outside her house and she whispered in my ear, “The Lord loves you. The Lord be with you.”
I’ve never forgotten that — and I forget most everything.
To me, those words are still filled with holy power.
In many places throughout the Bible are the words: “The Lord is with you,” which is a statement.
However, “the Lord be with you” is more than a statement. To me, it’s one person’s desire for the well-being of another.
It’s someone saying, “I want you to know God’s presence in your life. Whatever you’re going through, I hope you know that God holds you in his hand and will not let you go and that you are secure in his loving grip.
It’s the prayer of one person on behalf of another to know the full meaning of Jesus’ words: “Surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
It’s one person reminding another of what God has promised his people: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you” (Isaiah 43:2).
In another translation God says: “Do not be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
“When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead-end. Because I am God…the Holy of Israel.”
The song, “The Blessing,” has a part in it that goes, “God is for you, not against you…God is with you — in your comings and your goings, in your rejoicing and your weeping.
“He is in you, all around you. He goes before you and behind you.”
To me, when someone says to you, “The Lord be with you,” they’re asking God to watch over you and protect you and for you to experience his enjoyment of you and that you will be assured that he will never leave you nor forsake you, will always advocate for you and give you his strength and peace.
To tell someone, “The Lord be with you,” is to be intentional. It’s more than casual, more like a benediction.
So, to the person who called me, I want to say thank you. It touched me.
And the Lord be with you, too.
Nancy Kennedy can be reached at 352-564-2927 or by email at email@example.com.