In the Shadow of Your Wings
“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” (Psalm 57:1)
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4)
The idea for this piece began with a weeping cherry tree that I walked past it around the time the pandemic first started. I saw my own sorrow in that tree, as the weight of the pandemic started to overwhelm me. As my carefully constructed hopes and expectations, my false sense of control started to crumble. I didn’t know that this was only the beginning, that weightier sorrow was yet to come.
And yet, the weeping cherry tree represents Another. I saw the white-pink petals scattered on the ground and glued them to the paper. They poetically speak of the Only One in whom I can find refuge when everything else crumbles, Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53), who like the cascading branches of the tree, poured out His life for me.
The reflection below is a modified version of a journal entry I wrote on 4/16, a time when I was really struggling. If you are struggling, I pray you too would find peace, life, rest and joy in Jesus today!
Hidden with Christ
Apart from you, Jesus, I am an empty vessel–stripped, exposed and bare. Though I have nothing to offer, no good works, no successes, no righteousness, nothing but filthy rags, Lord, You have graciously given Yourself for me. You fill this empty vessel and make me a new creature in You. I am no longer a slave to sin, dead in my transgressions, powerless and hopeless. You have made me alive and set me free to serve You by Your precious blood, which cleanses me from all unrighteousness and sin that leads to death.
You paid for my sin on the cross and suffered the penalty I deserve–Your Father’s righteous wrath for my iniquities. You were forsaken for my sake, but in You, Jesus, I am found. Because my life is not my own–it is Yours, always, completely, forever.
The uncertainties of this life, my fears, my doubts, my sin, my failures, my successes, my good deeds–they do not define me, nor can they save. They cannot tell me who I am, though they try. Because I am not my own–I was bought with a price, with the precious blood You spilled out for me on the cross, the life You gave to give me life eternal in You.
Your scars tell me who I am. I see Your nail-pierced hands and feet, the gash in Your side where they broke Your heart with a spear, and the blood and water gushed out. Water from the Rock. For You died for me, and Your sacrifice is enough to save and forgive and cleanse me from my sin.
“It is finished” (John 19:30), You declared before the end, for sin is defeated, and You are victorious forever. You rose again three days later, confirming who You are, declaring Your victory over sin and death.
My life is not my own. I died with You–died to myself, to my sin. And I was raised with You–my life is hidden with You in God. Like a baby bird with its mother, in the shadow of Your wings, I take refuge both now and forever. For You walked through another shadow–the shadow of death–for me, and in Your shadow, Your sacrifice, Your life, Your love, I find Peace. Life. Rest. Joy.
And when the storms around me–fear of a future unknown, pains of past failures, lies of my heart–threaten to consume me, when the Accuser points his finger at me, reminding me of every prideful thought, every selfish motive, every evil deed, every sin, whispering that I can’t go back to you–You’re too sinful, too dirty, too unworthy. He could never love you. You’ll never be good enough.
Then I will remember the truth and look away from the raging doubts within–turning my eyes towards You. I will look to the cross, to Your face–Your thorn-pierced brow, Your anguished tears, Your arms stretched wide, Your flesh bleeding and mangled, Your heart breaking–and see what my sin cost You, the sinless Lamb. Your punishment should’ve been mine. It is true, I am sinful, I am unworthy.
And yet, as I look a little longer at your lingering gaze, I see Your love for me. I see why You endured that cross, for the joy set before You. I see that I could never deserve Your love, nor could I ever add to it. For You have given Your love freely to a sinner undeserving by giving Yourself.
Closer still, I look and see Your lips struggling, yet insistent on forming those precious words. I hear the declaration of Your victory even in death,
“It is finished.”
Sin is defeated.
And the Accuser shrinks back in fear, he trembles in dread, at the sound of the voice that spoke the universe into being, at this eternal, unchangeable word, he falls silent. His doom is sure. His lies have no power anymore.
And now, I look above to see Your glorious face, the crown of thorns replaced by a crown of glory. Your once-lifeless body now risen in spotless glory. As You extend Your arms to embrace me, I see Your hands–You still bear the scars.
Lifting up Your face in triumph, Your declare that unshakable truth:
“It is finished!” (John 19:30)
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name. You are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
And at the sound of your voice, I fall on my face before You, declaring,
“Worthy is the Lamb.” (Revelation 5:12)