Under God’s almighty wings
The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh, Special Writer
Background text: Psalm 91:4
Devotional text: Matthew 6:26
As usual, I have been reading the Psalms lately, and, based on a recent sighting, I started focusing on the many times the Psalms mention being protected by the Lord’s wings.
Psalm 91:4 says it this way: “He shall cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will take refuge; his truth will be your shield and buckler.”
What a great analogy of the way the Lord protects us! It came home even more to me when, as I was traveling recently, I had a chance to watch a mother bird giving flying lessons to her young.
I was able to pull off to the side from the country road I was traveling. Turning off the engine, I could watch as quietly and inconspicuously as possible. At first, I saw the mother bird flying high across the road, followed by her chick flapping like crazy to keep up. Up and down, up and down, the fledgling went, trying to keep up, trying to keep mother in sight.
Finally, the chick landed on a telephone wire. The mother, circling around, landed close by. The two sat on the wire for awhile. The chick not moving at all, just clinging to safety on the wire. Then, the mother would take off, flying around her chick, demonstrating the technique of flying, of catching currents of air to soar and glide.
Just as I thought maybe the mother bird would give her young a nudge, I watched as the little one took off again on its own. This time, the little one must have caught a current of air too, because it was not flapping as much as it was soaring. The mother began flying circles around her young.
It was such a wonderful sight to behold, the love of the mother bird teaching her chick to trust the air and discover the next path for its young life.
As I sat in my car, watching the pair fly off into the nearby woods, I thought of God, who, like an eagle, “stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young” (Deuteronomy 32:11). The same God who protected his people in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy; the same God who continues to protect us today, nudging us to take risks.
Just as the mother bird encouraged her young, God encourages us to move on with our lives, seeking what is next as well as promising to be with us through the various paths we take.
While the young bird will eventually leave its nest and start its own life, the protection and closeness of our God does not leave us but is with us always.
Have you ever wandered too close to a bird’s nest with hatchlings inside? If you have, then you know to be aware of the dive-bombing mother bird who will fiercely protect her young by attacking you.
Isaiah 31:5 describes the Lord like “birds flying about” as he defended Jerusalem. This is yet another bird analogy of the power and strength of the Lord as he protects his people under the “shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).
Thinking about the protection God offers us as a mother bird protects her young under the protective cover of her wings, we can understand that God wants us to recognize that his presence surrounds us. Under his protection, no matter what the times or circumstances, we find his love and mercy, his very presence in the time of trouble, the giver of peace and calm and patience, and all the goodness brought to us through his love.
Matthew 6:26 gives us this view of birds: “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet, your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
God gives us the natural world of birds and creatures of all kinds to help us understand his love for us. The care of a mother bird, as she sits on her eggs, as she feeds her hatchlings and eventually teaches them to fly, reminds us of God with us.
God is the one who is interested in who we are, who encourages us to take risks as we discover our paths in life and the one who never leaves us nor forsakes us in times of joy and in times of need.
We can learn much about God’s nature as we watch the lives of mother birds. As I researched the subject, I found story upon story of birds who lost their lives due to fires. In these stories, the burnt bodies of the mother bird were found to hold a secret. Beneath their wings were found their surviving young. You see, although the mother bird could have flown away, she chose to gather her young and give her life to protect them.
It reminds me of God’s love for us. He did not have to send his Son, Jesus, to Earth to save us. He could have left us in our fallen condition, but scripture tells us that he loved us so much that he gave his only son as a sacrifice for us (John 3:16). This is why we come to God, to believe in his love and mercy through Jesus, for Jesus gave his life to save us.