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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Shadow of His Wings

Every day going to and from work, I pass a small municipal airport sitting so far from the road I rarely remember it’s there. Instead, I’m focused on the day’s events or on jabbing buttons to get to a better song.

Occasionally, out of the blue, a shadow sweeps over my car, quickening my adrenalin and firing up goose bumps. For a split second, as the interior of my car darkens and lightens again, all I know is that something big is happening all over and around me. Before I can make sense of it, it’s over. Afterwards, I smile at myself for forgetting where I am . . . airplanes tend to hang around airports.

No matter how many times I watch planes take off and land, I never get over the wonder of the physics and finesse of the maneuver. The procedure is so far above me, literally and mentally. And when one descends relatively close by, it’s always breathtaking.

I’ve noticed that God often reinforces such arresting images to teach or reassure me. For example, I was walking in my neighborhood listening to “Better is One Day” by Kutless, and a plane cast its shadow over me again. Coincidentally, there is a line in the song that says, “I sing beneath the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 63:7). I was sensing a theme. As I listened, it occurred to me that the “fly-over” is how I often experience God’s presence in my life, especially when I cannot seem to hear his voice or feel his direction.

Christians often talk about moments when we feel God’s presence or hear him speak and the times we don’t. Of course, God is faithful and constant, but we seem to have certain expectations of how he will communicate with us, and if he decides to use another means, we often miss hearing him. Other times, we might miss him if we’re simply too distracted by pushing life’s buttons, trying to get to the next best thing or stay ahead of the game. And how easy is it to miss his voice if we’re constantly submerged in TV, music, movies, telephone conversations, and (gasp) blogging? I’ve never known anyone who experienced Jesus walking into their room, turning off the TV or computer and demanding, “We need to talk!” although I have wondered about my occasional Internet shutdowns!

Obviously, we could write off those examples of apparent silence as our fault, but what about those times when we focus intently on hearing him, and we’re met with silence? Just the other day, I was following the ACTS L guide to praying (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication and listening). When I got to the listening part, I quieted my mind and waited, but I sensed no revelations, no guidance, not so much as a cricket chirp of communication. That can be discouraging.

Oswald Chambers has something interesting to say about silence: “[God’s] silence is the sign that He is bringing you into a marvelous understanding of Himself. Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response? You will find that God has trusted you in the most intimate way possible, with an absolute silence, not of despair, but of pleasure, because He saw that you could stand a bigger revelation. If God has given you a silence, praise Him, He is bringing you into the great run of His purposes. The manifestation of the answer in time is a matter of God's sovereignty. Time is nothing to God. For a while you said – ‘I asked God to give me bread, and He gave me a stone.’ He did not, and today you find He gave you the bread of life.”

Some believe silence is holy--especially those with toddlers! I believe God uses periods of silence to deepen our faith. Perhaps silence tests us insofar as showing how little it takes to discourage us, in order to compel us to grow deeper. On the other hand, if we steadfastly continue to seek him during our trials, silence may help prove that our faith remains hardy in spite of circumstances, marking a robust and seasoned faith. If you’re waiting for a response to a specific prayer, remember how long Job waited to hear from God. In other words, waiting in and of itself can be a message.

So now I view periods of silence another way. I look for the Lord to “fly over” my life, covering me with his presence. Almost immediately, I begin to see him in others, in his creation, or in music. And no matter how many times I experience him close-up and personal like this, just as with the airplane flying low over my car, I never get over the wonder of it—he is awesome.

Our God casts a big shadow—a big, big, shadow, with the majesty of an eagle whose wingspan is immeasurable, with the precision and power of the most sophisticated aircraft and the tender care of a mother covering her children. His presence is all I need. The image of the mighty eagle swooping down and up, circling and watching, casting his holy shadow over my life, allows me to lay my head on my pillow at night in peace. And in my spirit, I sing beneath the shadow of his wings.

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Blogger Denise said...

This was so lovely, thank you for sharing.

April 3, 2007 at 12:10 AM  
Blogger Carol said...

"Other times, we might miss him if we’re simply too distracted by pushing life’s buttons, trying to get to the next best thing or stay ahead of the game."

If he did shut down our distractions and say, "We need to talk," I wonder whether I'd complain. "Hey! I was watching/reading/folding/ doing/drawing/blogging/ listening to/playing that!"

A most excellent post, Linda. And a most wonderful shadow in which to be.

April 3, 2007 at 6:28 AM  
Blogger BrideOfChrist said...

Wonderful post Linda! Thank you for your insights, as always! God bless!

April 3, 2007 at 9:12 AM  
Anonymous amanda said...

So true! What a great reminder that Jesus promised to NEVER leave us or desert us! Even when we "can't hear" him, he's there!

April 3, 2007 at 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Lynn Donovan said...

Oh Linda... Beautiful writing intertwining the airport, the eagle peace and God's sovereignty.

If God has given you a silence, praise Him, He is bringing you into the great run of His purposes..... So often I miss this opportunity. Thank you.

April 3, 2007 at 11:55 AM  
Anonymous Jen said...

excellent picture
loved your post and when trouble comes the mere fact that His wings cover us and protect us really helps

April 3, 2007 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

This was so beautiful and just what I needed to read. Thanks for sharing.

April 3, 2007 at 4:30 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Linda, I'm one of those with young children that believes silence is magical! But you're right, I don't always feel that way when it's God's silence. Thanks for that reminder that God sometimes trusts us with silence, as would a close friend. I love your "fly-over" imgery, too!

April 3, 2007 at 8:12 PM  
Blogger Laurel Wreath said...

I believe God uses periods of silence to deepen our faith

Oh I know this to be true. I have found the silence frustrating, but God has made me realize it is a blessing. Many times when I am in the "throws" of things and life is hitting hard, I am anxious for the next silence of sitting still.

Beautiful. I love your description of "shadow of His wings."

April 3, 2007 at 9:05 PM  
Blogger Susanne said...

I love this post Linda. Your last paragraph was so comforting!

April 3, 2007 at 10:43 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Beautiful imagery--I pray that my children remain in the shadow of His wings.

April 4, 2007 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger janiswrites said...

Beautiful post. If we stay in that shadow of His wings, then everything else will be just fine, won't it? Thanks for sharing! Blessings to you!

April 4, 2007 at 6:49 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Can I go on one of these walks with you? :) It could be a pep-talk walk, I need that.

We can marvel when the sun shines on our face and take comfort in the shadows of life.

April 4, 2007 at 8:17 PM  
Blogger The Preacher's Wife said...

I love the ACTS prayer form but I've not ever heard it with the L on the end...I just realized I'm cutting God off...How rude of me! :)

Loved this post...

April 5, 2007 at 5:41 PM  
Blogger Elise said...

Breathtaking, Linda, to think of God's presence covering us the way the shadow of an enormous plane does.
I am guilty of demanding God to speak to me audibly - I'm waiting here, Lord! Hurry!
Thank you for this reminder that His presence is always there. And to sing in our spirit.
(Hubby walked by and said - Kutless? Cool!) :)

April 5, 2007 at 10:05 PM  

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