Story time: It’s 10:09 am on a Friday morning, and we’re stuck in traffic. The meeting that we’re supposed to be at started nine minutes ago, and yet we’re still crawling over the busiest road in Cambridge, in bumper to bumper traffic. Now – I’m not a “morning person” at the best of times, and as I haven’t had my two coffees yet, I’m a little bit grumpy.
I turn the radio up a little bit, and rest my head on my window as we come to another stop at the traffic lights.
“If we could just hit every set of traffic lights, that would be fantastic” I mutter, sarcastically.
We eventually move past the lights, shuffle over a roundabout, and just as the traffic begins to clear… we hit a red light. Sure enough, we see every single set of lights turn red down that half-mile stretch of road – just in time for us to have to come to a stop.
“I think He heard you,” chips in my super-helpful friend, sat in my passenger seat.
There are times in my life when it’s super-obvious that God is walking along next to me – I can chat away in His ear, and I know that I don’t need to explain to Him what’s going on with me, because He already knows – He walked it with me. Times when my life echoes the walk of the man in the Footprints in the Sand poem – He’s walking next to me, and when those footprints disappear, it’s because He’s carrying me.
This is who God really is. He’s watching me; laughing with me when I say something silly, jumping up and down in joy when I look to Him, holding His hand out for me to grab. He’s dancing with me when I’m spinning round with joy, jumping round my kitchen to cheesy 90’s pop music. And when I royally mess up, He’s crouched down next to me, picking up the pieces and keeping me company on the floor. My God sees my heart, the things that nobody else gets to see.
Those times are great – skipping through a field of daisies with Him, the sun shining, no storms in sight. But life isn’t always like that. There are times when the winds come and it feels like my hand is torn away from His, and instead of a field of daisies, I’m sat in a desert.
Here’s what God does when His children are in the desert:
He found him out in the wilderness, in an empty, windswept wasteland. He threw his arms around him, lavished attention on him, guarding him as the apple of his eye. He was like an eagle hovering over its nest, overshadowing its young. Then spreading its wings, lifting them into the air, teaching them to fly. (Deuteronomy 32:10-12, MSG)
Because here’s the thing: in the moments when it doesn’t feel like He’s right there next to you, He’s the eagle swooping overhead, guarding you. You don’t mess with an eagle when it’s protecting its young – no-one’s getting near that nest. Then when the danger’s gone, He swoops down, lifts you up into the air and teaches you to fly again. Sometimes we need moments of resting in His protection, so we can have the power to fly again.
Also, this has nothing to do with where we’re at or what we’re doing. Even when I royally mess up, or feel like I’m not doing the right thing, He’s still going to sweep me up and help me to fly again.
Whoever dwells in the shadow of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1)
The word “dwells” literally means to sit – sit in God’s shadow, and He’ll protect you. And the amazing thing is that this doesn’t need any work from me at all – sitting is the easiest thing to do.
When we’re in that desert place sometimes it feels like we need to dig ourselves out: this is my mess, I’m the one that got myself here – if only I could sort myself out. But all God asks to do is sit in His presence and He’ll sweep us up on His wings. It’s that easy! We’re the apple of His eye – we’re His favourite – and there’s nothing that we can do to mess that up.
God is not ignoring you. When I made a sarcastic comment and suddenly every light turned red, I had a bit of a strop with God. “So, you heard that? Every light is turning red right now, and yet this situation is still going on for me? Seriously?”
But there’s nothing more watchful than an eagle over their young – while He’s swooping overhead, nothing can get close. I’ll probably never know the things that God was protecting me from while He was up there – and all I need to do is let Him sweep me up and teach me to fly. The Bible says that “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary.” (Isaiah 40:31) When you’re soaring, the burdens are gone – when you’re running, there’s nothing on you to hold you back.
And I also know that God’s got a sense of humour; He’s laughing with me. By the time we reached the car park, I had breathed out, sung along with the radio for a while, and come to terms with the fact that the world isn’t against me. I didn’t need saving – I needed my Dad to remind me that He hears me and that He’s with me.
To be able to soar, all you have to do is sit. I want to be a part of what He’s doing, but grace means that everything that I’m trying to do has already been done – God dealt with it all on the cross. When I stress, when I strive and try to battle on my own, I’m trying to take that away from Him. We can hold on to His promises.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14)
You are not alone – God is with you, and He’s protecting you.