It has been my spiritual practice to sit with words or phrases and this summer I have spent some time with Psalm 84. I was drawn to it when I was thinking about strength, and even spoke on strength twice this summer, once at Knox Presbyterian and once at my own home church. (You can check it out, if you like, at First Baptist Church, Vernon, under sermons, on August 7)
Perhaps, because I have been confronted with my own weaknesses, that these lessons have been very important to me. I'm encouraged by scripture that God cares for those who are weak, because our very dependency is on the One who gives us life.
Last week, during a retreat time I thought I would revisit Psalm 84 and was drawn to the latter verses, 11 and 12 where it speaks of the Lord God being our sun and shield.
It brought back memories of twenty years ago when I was newly widowed, living in an isolated community in a big creaky house and feeling very responsible for my three grieving children. Every night as I prayed I would pray these words... Be my sun and shield.
I know I was thinking more about the shield part, and in my active mind (or was God giving me spiritual eyes), I would imagine hosts of angels surrounding my house, covering me, protecting me from any harm. And then I would sleep.
I've thought about these words this past days, what do they really mean?
For God to say He personifies the sun, brings me pictures of warmth, energy, light, provision, and a fierce radiance that permeates all He touches. I thought of my friend who is undergoing radiation treatment, and I prayed that God would permeate, radiate light and love throughout her body. It is a good prayer to pray for me, for those I love, for those I minister to.
I don't think of God in purely masculine terms, although that is how we have come to see it written. We who are created in God's image are both male and female. I think of the warmth of a mother's love, of her fierce embrace, of her compassion and protection.
A Mother is like a shield against the world. And God, who is Holy and Just and Pure would know that we also need a shield... even Moses hid his eyes from God.
This is truly an oxymoron, a mystery. An all powerful God, holy... like the sun we are drawn to the Radiance, the Heat, the Energy.
I know I cannot sit in the sun for long... I need my sunscreen, an umbrella, some shade, a shield. And God provides the protection I need!
Even though this is beyond understanding, all that is required is trust. The psalm says "Blessed is the one who trusts in You."
I am an expert at trying. Trying to get it right, trying to live healthy, trying to live my best life, physically, spiritually, mentally. This can be exhausting!
To change trying to trusting... this is the challenge. I might not always get it right, but I can rest in the fact that God is my source... my Sun, and God is also my protector, my Shield. Trusting and resting in that promise is a good word for me this week, and I hope it will encourage you as well.