To me it was a precious question. It was asked in all sincerity, after an anxious night spent reading Psalm 91 over the phone. Verse 4 stated: “He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge.” The question was posed to me like a child; pure, innocent, curious, and my heart simply gushed and melted within me. I didn’t know the answer at the time, but I would later.
The prophet Jeremiah writes that the person who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is not in themselves but in Him, is blessed. They will be like a tree planted by water; sending its roots out towards a stream, not living in fear when the heat comes, with its foliage remaining green in spite of the atmospheric change. This person does not need to worry in a time of drought and they don’t have to cease producing fruit.
The heat comes in many forms… the loss of jobs and loved ones, sickness, disputes, wrongdoing, sin, abandonment. In the midst, God says, ‘Trust Me… have confidence in Me, even in this heat I have allowed. Send your roots out towards the stream of My Living Water that’s always new, refreshing, and moving.’
We shouldn’t fear the heat, but we do. Is our foliage remaining green? If we’re in a time of drought, are we worrying about our lives and ceasing from producing fruit? That is when we see the Holy Spirit at work, keeping the full extent of fear and worry at bay, even though it is pressing up hard against the bulkhead; rising and raging at the cusp. Yet, His Spirit, He who has conquered the world Who is in us holds it back at exactly the right place without it breaking and overcoming us… He speaks to it, ‘Come no further than here.’ And He appoints the boundary line.
Fruit is produced even in our agony. Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane “produced fruit” in His darkest hour, by submitting to the will of His Father to endure the plan of redemption. In His worst moment, the greatest of all fruit was produced, far exceeding all of His miraculous signs and wonders and healings. God, through His Son’s obedience, was making all things new.
In our despair, we may not see from God’s perspective in the moment, in the midst of the heat, but when we pause we may catch a glimpse. That ministry you’re faithful to, those prayers you sincerely prayed, got up early for, went to bed late laboring in, those letters or blog posts you wrote, those phone calls you made, those friends you re-connected with, those encouraging words you didn’t hold back, those friends and loved ones you checked in on, conversations had, time spent with family, small steps of faith to do what was uncomfortable and love the unloveable, starving the flesh and its demands to instead taste the something greater of God’s word, to go to that church you never went to, listen to those podcasts, dig in and devour those books that point to grace and truth, love and respect, that you allow Him to use to better you, change your thinking, grow in love and grace… these are fruits, these are seeds sown that will reap a harvest in due time.
Gaining a deeper perspective, seeing people differently with an eye for the lost and broken, the downcast, the rejected, the lonely, those on the sidelines who don’t feel like they fit in or have a place, these are fruits gained only through the torment of the heat. A truly seasoned believer may not see heat when it comes because having experienced much of it, their eyes have been trained to stay locked on the Lord. As for me, I can’t help but ‘see’ a raging inferno and tremble. Job was no different. But the choice remains… look at the heat or look at the Lord. The later regulates the heat, even though it tries its worst. The Lord, however, covers us in the shadow of His wings; insulating us by His divinity. If we are hid in Him, nothing can touch The One who overcame death itself. He can give us that single eye of redemption to block out the effects of the heat, help us spread out roots in love, so that no matter the agonizing drought, we don’t cease from yielding fruit because we live in the fruit of redemption. We can’t cease from obtaining its resources because we are His, bought at a price, and He has made us to be an expression of Himself.
Does God have wings? Now I know. Yes, He must, as I now find myself under them.