Friday, October 5, 2018

Under His Wings

You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence;
he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day. 
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday.
Ps 91:1-6

There's always something to fear. Even when the frightened feel secure or the fearless feel strong, we humans always have a point of vulnerability—in the dark I fear what I can't see; in broad daylight I fear being seen. Though many psalms speak of God's protection, none do so more effectively than Psalm 91. I think what makes this psalm so beautiful is how the tender image of a mother bird protecting her young is sandwiched between more militaristic images of fortress, and shield.

Perhaps that's because I'm not always a soldier in a war but a gosling in a storm. So much of the time, the threats that surround me aren't due to the fact that I've engaged the forces that would undo me, but because I've had to temporarily retire from the field, and now feel defenseless against those destructive forces.

Yes, I know I can't give in yet. It's not time to surrender. But in the midst of the battle, God will be to me not just a weapon to protect me, or a general to command me, but also a mother goose to envelop me. This doesn't mean I can live my entire life under God's wing, for birds fledge and Christians mature. There's work to be done, and I must eventually face my fears. But when I really need to hide, God understands.

Under thy shadow, Shepherd and King,
safe from all evil, under thy wing.
Strangers and pilgrims, forward I move,
calm in thy keeping, strong in thy love!


Leaning upon thee, close by thy side,
in thy communion I would abide.
Closer still clinging, Savior, to thee,
daily my journey upwards shall be.


Goodness and mercy ever attend,
guidance and keeping on to the end!
Solace in sorrow brightness in gloom,
light everlasting over the tomb!


Counsel and comfort, whate'er befall,
thou wilt afford me, Savior, in all.
Let thy glad presence still with me dwell:
nothing shall harm me, all shall be well. Amen.

Horatius Bonar (alt.) 


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