“Oh my gosh it is so nasty outside!” a friend exclaimed coming through the door. “Yeah, it is so hot out there” another added fanning herself with her hand.
I stepped outside to see what all the fuss was about and a smile crept across my face. The birds were chirping. A gentle breeze was blowing. It was probably 85 degrees. It was early August . . . and we were in Minnesota.
I assured my northern friends that this was not “hot”.
Hot is when you can’t go outside barefoot without burning the soles of your feet. Hot is when you can’t wear shorts in your mom’s old Ford LTD because the vinyl seats leave burn marks. Hot is when you sweat just thinking about going outside or when your AC simply can’t keep up and inside starts to feel like outside. Hot is when you walk out of a commercially cooled building (a mall, department store, etc.) and the “heat wave” just past the sliding doors knocks you back and you cower at the thought of temperature inside the car. If there is one thing we Texans know well, it is summer heat.
A few years back my brother, sister-in-law and I went to an outdoor music festival. After a day of sweating, water consumption, and self-fanning we learned the high temperature that day was 107. No wonder we were hot.
The saving grace that day wasn’t the self-fanning or cool water (though they helped) it was the umbrellas my brilliant family had packed to create shade. Throughout the day I was amazed at the difference the shade made. A flimsy little umbrella kept the sun from scorching our necks and held back the pounding heat.
This scripture took on new meaning: “The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not smite you by day, or the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.” Psalm 121:5-7
The Lord is our shade. This is an image I can relate to.
I’ve never been in an earthly battle and needed a “stronghold” or “fortress”. I’ve never literally fled from an enemy and needed a “refuge” (Psalm 18). I’ve never weathered a real hurricane and needed a true “shelter from the storm”. But I’m a Texan and I know what it means to need shade.
And our Lord is far more effective at providing shade than a flimsy umbrella. He can keep the worries of life from scorching our joy. He can keep the stress of decisions and the heartache of tragedy from pounding down on us. He can be our shade.
Notice that shade doesn’t make the sun disappear, it simply minimizes the effects on us. Letting God be our shade won’t mean life is perfect with chirping birds, gentle breezes and 85° weather. But it will mean that we have the strength and grace to weather even the worst heat wave.
Today let us put ourselves in God’s presence, in his shade. Let his shade ease your pain, soften your anger, and calm your nerves. “The Lord is your keeper, the Lord is your shade.”