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Posts Tagged ‘protection’

Feathers

Art by Chris Maynard

Art by Chris Maynard

God will protect you with his pinions [feathers];
    you’ll find refuge under his wings.
    His faithfulness is a protective shield.
Don’t be afraid . . . [Psalm 91:4-5a]

I just moved from a very large to a very small one. The moving process is awful, no matter how you cut it unless you know from the beginning that you’re simply packing everything and taking it along.

In my case, I had to divest myself of at least 2/3’s of my “things.” Every day for six weeks, I was having to decide yes or no, take or store or let go. Exhausting. The longer I did this, the more rash I became. Just take it. I even gave away a $1500 bedroom suite. I couldn’t use it. I couldn’t sell it. What was the point?

But there were odd things I couldn’t seem to part with. One small item I packed and unpacked several times: a feather. So odd. It’s a big feather, almost the size of a writing feather. And yet, it’s just a feather. I found it on a beach somewhere, Cape May I think. feathers

I also like feather pillows and I just indulged myself with a feather bed topper.

Forrest Gump, the movie, had a feather symbolically float in and out of the film.

In Native American culture, feathers symbolize the thunder gods as well as the power of air and wind. Other cultures, like the Celtic Druids also wore feathers as symbols of the “sky god.” Some say that back in the day, even Christians took on three feathers as symbols for charity, hope, and faith. That’s a new one on me.

The bird probably thinks differently of his feathers as they are his sole protection, from heat and cold and precipitation. Every bird has feathers and everything that has feathers is a bird. Of course, feathers enable a bird to fly. And lastly, give each bird a unique appearance.

feathers2But what does this have to do with me and God? Nothing much except, this scripture verse has always stayed with me, the picture of safety under a bird’s wing, the feathers covering softly but with strength. When I sorrow, this image is a comfort place for me and has key elements to the Secret Place.

A friend of mine told me a story of a woman who was being sexually assaulted and the only part of this psalm she could remember was “feathers, feathers, feathers.” The attacker let her go.

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angelic protectionFor he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent. [Psalm 91:11-13]

When I was planning a Lenten devotion series for my church along with my daily responses to the selected scriptures, I accidentally switched the weeks. As a result, the theme of “My God, My Protector” ended up now instead of week two. Funny, I don’t know how it has worked out for anyone else, but this is the week I have needed confirmation of God’s loving protection more than ever.

I am feeling so tenuous and unsure of myself. Every task feels gargantuan and I am unable to get anything done on time, with hours and days racing by with no benchmarks. I guess some of these feelings might be as a result of my previous commitment to the peeling away of outer self and exposing of inner self. In theory alone, it’s a dangerous possibility; but this chaotic reality is unexpected. And why? For this very reason: I am not familiar with this person, this tremor, this confusing cacophony of feelings and thoughts.

So often, I am the bull in a china shop, I plunge into tasks with no subtlety whatsoever and simply trust my knowledge and instincts. But these days, I am on tiptoe, softly treading, unsure of my steps, unsure of the surroundings, unsure of my choices. Everything looks and feels peculiar.

Another devotional book I have been following this season is A Day in Your Presence: A 40-day journey in the company of Francis of Assisi compiled by David Hazard. It’s an old book and a series from the early 90’s, but the entries are very short and hit directly to the matter at hand. Then, in the midst of this study, the new Pope takes on the name of Saint Francis. Why did his choice strike such a chord? I don’t really know; it’s not like I’m Catholic, and yet, the synchronicity of it gave me pause. Something is happening: like a secret revolution.

God is speaking to his people about the Way again. And it’s not big and dramatic and full of signs and wonders. It’s a quiet revolution of the heart. But in that kind of change, it’s important to surrender to the protection of the Holy Spirit. It’s important to trust God in the midst of change. I ask now that God send those angelic messengers to hold me close and prick my spirit to submit to the Presence within.

Amen. Selah (pause and calmly think of that). Amen.

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I wonder if I would be a nicer person if I honestly considered that the person driving that car that just cut me off or the person who insisted on paying with coins in the checkout line or the huge person who just sat in front of me at the movies was an angel?

Hebrews 13:2
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

All right, I know that’s far-fetched, but isn’t it unfortunate in our current age that strangers equal danger? All children are told to avoid them; women fear them in parking lots while men suspect nefariousness or come-ons. Most strangers are wearing black hats.

And of course, I understand that “stranger danger” is very real, but have we overdone it? Have we extended this assumption to regular people who might be visiting from out of town or drop by our church one Sunday or just want to help with directions–have we demonized them all?

I don’t know the answer.

We have a family friend who is very quick to speak to strangers. He usually feels led of God and because of that, he has no fear. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and something terrible to happen, bu nothing has endangered him in the last ten or twenty years (both in the U.S. and abroad). On his way to visit us (driving up from Georgia with another friend), they picked up a hitchhiker (as is his custom). They talked at length and as he got closer to our home, he telephoned ahead and said we would have an extra guest.

When I found out it was a young man, generally high on something and recently out of jail, my heart skipped a beat. All I could envision was a complete takeover at knife point. My fears were over the top, but for safety’s sake, I did insist that they all crash in our basement guest room.

The boy was not an angel but he was in need and in the end, the two friends took him all the way to New York and got him connected with Dave Wilkerson’s ministry.

I am embarrassed that I was so afraid. I will never be like my global traveling missionary, but I do think I could be generous with my eyes, my voice, and my mind. I could be more interested in the stranger. I could be kind. I could be willing to help.

Something to think about.

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