Thrashing in bed and suffering from a bout of food poisoning last Saturday all I could think about was finding relief. When night fell, even though my physical symptoms persisted, the darkness seeping in through the window felt soothing. The strained muscles around my eyes relaxed.
During the day I’d hustled around town, running to the Farmer’s Market and Sam’s Club while my building illness made the traffic and noise seem overwhelming. But in this blessed new darkness, nothing was demanded of me.
A blanket of peace fell.
During the still hours that followed, although my body suffered and sleep was intermittent, I rested.
As I lay still verses from Psalm 91 drifted into my consciousness:
Surely He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the deadly plague.
He will cover you with His feathers;
under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day.
All of a sudden I had a sense that the soothing darkness around me came from being tucked under my Father’s wings. I drew deep breaths, sensing his nearness, tender love and protection of me.
Yesterday when I finally felt better, I noticed a friend from my youth in Norway had posted an article on Facebook. In it Ole Kristian recounted how in the fall of 2018 he'd felt run down and sick and that his wife had persuaded him to go see a doctor.
It was only days later that he received a medical report that he suffered from leukemia and only had a 20 per cent chance of survival.
“Prepare yourself for a grueling treatment,”the specialist warned. “But we will do everything in our power to help you live.”
"Live", thought, Ole Kristian. He spent the next 4 ½ months in a hospital in Oslo fighting for his life while receiving a bone marrow transplant. With his immune system too compromised to see his grandchildren or to go outside, he often spent time in the hospital chapel. He’d sit and face a cross on the wall. He recounted that although he didn’t see Jesus, he felt his presence.
During the horrendously long days and night of suffering and weakness the words of Psalm 91 became his. He recited it often.
As he did, despite the pain and isolation, he experienced Jesus as present.
I was so happy to see how Jesus covered my friend with his feathers and shielded his heart from offense and distrust.
Somehow when we FEEL the presence of Jesus, it is easier to trust him.
It is also easier to rest.
Most of us are prone to dulling our fears, hurts or resentments through busyness.
But the Bible has always offered us an alternative. namely the soothing darkness which I should rename hiddenness beneath God the Father’s wings.
See below how the Word itself invites you into this sacred place.
And I’ve also found a tremendous bonus!
In this hidden spot I don’t have to be a capable adult but can be a dependent child and a chick. As I wrap up this blog I’m leaving you with a few “bird verses”. Until next time: chirp, chirp, chirp.
He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
"Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, That hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions.
Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge Until destruction passes by.
Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah.
For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.