One of my favourite Bible passages over the years has been Psalm 46, especially the first three verses, which read as follows:
Psalm 46:1-3 – God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. (RSV)
On a personal level, I have always taken great comfort in my belief that God protects me, and, of course, all other people. I turn to God for protection when life gets me down or when I fear something. I have done this at some very sad or difficult times of my life. It is at those moments that I have looked to God with great trust and my firm belief that God will care for me. It is from God that I have found the strength to carry me through these dark valleys into the light again. At such moments, God has been my refuge, my shelter, my place of safety, my sanctuary, my home. I have experienced the comfort and the reality of this psalm.
However, as a person who pretends to be an artist of one sort or another, I have searched for ways to paint or draw this so that the message would truly be there for others to see. This summer I saw it pictured for me and I want to share it with you.
My husband and I, along with our daughter, her husband and twenty-month-old baby boy, Andrew, spent several weeks in the Adirondacks. Our cottage was within fifty feet of the water, and we were blessed with our own strip of beach. We made the most of our opportunities, swimming almost every day! My daughter, an avid swimmer, was eager to introduce her son to the joy of swimming in such a way that he would not become frightened and would grow up with both a healthy respect for water and a love of it.
As it happened one day, there was a high wind, and the surface of the lake was filled with whitecaps. The waves rolled solidly against our shore making a slapping sound each time one hit. I thought, "Too bad, no water fun today." Wrong! My daughter lifted her son into her arms, and waded out several yards from shore. Then she turned her back on the expanse of roiling water so that while the water swirled around her, she acted as a buffer for her son. In this way, Andrew was protected from the brunt of the pounding of the water. How happy he was at that moment!
There they stood together as she cradled Andrew in her loving arms, dipping him up and down, and then hugged him. The tumult of the waves was everywhere except in the oasis of calm there around her son. I saw safety, refuge, protection — and I was deeply moved. That was how the psalm came to life anew for me there on the shores of Little Sacandaga Lake. It is a picture that I will hold dear for the rest of my life.
Then, unbelievably, as if that was not enough, a blue butterfly flew out from the shore and hovered directly over them for at least a full minute. Some may know that for Christians, the butterfly is one of the symbols of the resurrection — the new life that Jesus gave to us all. So this for me was a very special moment made even more so by the gift of this butterfly. My daughter and her son were blessed that moment, I know. What a perfect picture! It took my breath away as I looked at what for me was a holy moment. It was a perfect benediction.
Prayer: God, we come to you with hearts full for the caring and love that you show each one. By your grace, we know that we are safe with you. We thank you for the refuge that you are to us in our time of need. We thank you for the shelter that is ours when we turn to you in prayer. May we all know the wonderful benediction with which you bless each of us. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.