Saturday, January 03, 2009

Under His wings

My grandfather kept hens. Sometimes one of them would go broody. When that happened, he would make a nest for her in an old wooden box, put a dozen eggs in the nest, and put a piece of sacking over the front of the box so she could sit on them undisturbed. Three weeks later, she would have a dozen tiny chicks.

If the weather was good, Granddad would put her box out of doors with an enclosure of wire netting around the box so the chicks could run on the grass. The hen would sit watching her brood, every inch the proud mother. If danger approached, she would call to the chicks, and one by one they would run under her wings. She would be sitting there looking just like she did before, but the chicks were now out of sight, safely protected by her wings, warm against the side of her body. Except perhaps for one who would be too clever to come in, and was still playing about outside.

Did you know that God has wings? Well, apparently He does. In the beautiful 91st Psalm there's a precious promise: "He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you shall take refuge." Imagine being safe under the wings of the Creator of the universe.

Ruth knew something about that. She was a girl from Moab who decided to trust the God of Israel and go to live in Israel with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Boaz, who later became her husband, had some kind words for her. "The Lord repay your work," he said, "and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge."

King David had the same idea. In the 17th Psalm, he says to God "Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me under the shadow of your wings." In the 57th Psalm, when he was on the run from Saul, who was out to kill him, he says to God "In the shadow of your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by." And in Psalm 61, he says "I will abide in your tabernacle for ever; I will trust in the shelter of your wings." The word in the original Hebrew translated shelter there is translated elsewhere a secret place, a hiding place.

Jesus knew about it too. In the last week before He died, as He thought about Jerusalem, the city and the people that He loved, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem," He said, "the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" He had a place for them. Safe in the Saviour. What a wonderful place to be!

I remember the first time I heard the gospel, in a little church one Sunday evening. After the service, some folks from the church took me to their home. A neighbour who also belonged to the church sat there and told me what Jesus had done for her. There was a happiness on her face that I could see. Yet it didn't occur to me it was for me.

God continued to speak to my heart until four months later I gave my life to Christ. Can you imagine it? The Creator of the universe wanted me to accept His call to a personal relationship with Him. All He wanted to do was bless me, give me His forgiveness, His love, His joy, His peace. And it took me four months to decide I was willing. Sometimes we're a bit like the chicken who thinks he knows better. Don't you be like that. When you hear the call to be safe under His wings, come running. You'll never regret it. Not for a moment. I never have.