Sunday, April 16, 2006
Under Your Wings - Psalm 91
By Ramone - April 9, 2006
Back on March 16th, I sketched this in a small notebook after meditating on His Sabbath rest (that is, the total rest that we freely receive by faith in what Jesus Christ has done for us). I was reading some passages and hit a point when I couldn't study any further or go any deeper. Sometimes you feel like you're on the verge of understanding something but can't quite get it. That's usually when He's calling you to rest in Him and not in what you know or what you can possibly know! He brought me back to simply resting, simple rest, just resting in Him. It's all about Him. It's not about us or what we know. We rest in Him, under Him. Simply.
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.'
Surely He will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His feathers,
and under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart..."
I grew up believing that the end times would be times of testing, when we had to know many things in order to pass the test, in order to survive, to be saved. Then when I came to rest in Christ in late 2000, I began to understand that He will keep us safe, that it's not our knowledge or good works that saves us, it's Him that saves us. Not my faithfulness, but His faithfulness will be my shield & rampart in all of the terrible times that must come. Psalm 91 stood out as a comforting, restful promise of His loving protection during the worst of times, even during the worst times to come on earth in its whole history.
As I read the third verse ("Surely He will save you from the fowler's snare"), I was reminded of a similar verse from a similar song, Psalm 124...
"We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler's snare;
the snare has been broken, and we have escaped."
I remember first coming across Psalm 124, reading that verse and realizing, that is what has happened in Jesus! That's what He's done for us! Because of what He has done in His death and resurrection, we have escaped sin, death and punishment! We have escaped the trap of the enemy! The snare of sin, the power and trap of sin, has been broken, and we have escaped! We have been set free and have fled to the refuge of Father's mighty, loving & protecting arms.
I then realize that Psalm 91 is not only apocalyptic -- it's not only speaking of the rest He will give us in the end times of trouble, but it is talking about the rest He has given us now in Jesus! This is the rest He has given us by His death on the cross! This is what He's done in His Son on the Cross! He's covered us with His feathers, given us refuge under His wings; His faithfulness has become our shield because of what He has done for us. He has saved us.
Resting "under His wings" means resting on the Cross, resting on His finished work. All that we have done, good or bad, can't give us rest. Nothing can bring us peace except what He has done for us. It's like Adam & Eve at the creation. They didn't do anything to enter God's rest... they entered it by no effort of their own. It was God's rest, and they freely received it. In the same way, we have received rest (peace, reconciliation, relationship & salvation) with God not because of what we have done, but because of what He has done on the Cross.
We rest on the Cross, clothed in white by Him, clothed in the gift of His righteousness. I painted the white clothing and thought maybe it should look like a robe or shirt & pants, but I left it because it looks like pajamas! And that's right! We're resting in Him! He's given us His righteousness, the garments of peace & rest with God. When I know Him, when I forget all my junk, this is where I am, curled up on His Cross, under His wings, knowing only that His love surrounds me. And I want to sleep there and stay there forever!
It took me some time to understand this picture. I thought maybe the orange, red & yellow background was like the trouble of the end times, but He said, "No, it's all My love for you." I wondered about His eyes and the crown of thorns, and the white starry or snowy stuff.
His closed eyes reminded me of how He slept in the boat while His disciples feared for their lives because of the violent storm. He was at rest, and they were all safe even though they didn't know it -- because He was in the boat with them! He knew they were safe in Him & Father so much that He could sleep like a baby. Because of what He's done for us, we too enter that rest, that joy & peaceful acceptance that He has in His Father; we enter the loving joy & rest between Father & Son.
The crown of thorns seems harsh. If this picture of rest looks like it's in the sky or in space, then the crown looks like a terrible tear, like a scar through the sky; a terrible rip, wound & cut across the universe. And it is; it's the horrible pain of God the Father & Son.
The crown of thorns tells me that Jesus became a curse for us... thorns came from the curse of our first sin, but Jesus took these thorns on Himself. He took our sins on Himself, and He took away our curse. He set us free from the curse, from every curse...
We have rest, rest from the curse of toil & death as Adam & Eve had (and even more!) because of the precious blood spilled from His brow. The truest King of all humbled Himself and allowed us to mock Him & pierce His royal brow... so that He could give us rest from sin, sinning & penalty, to love us and make us His own.
The white, snowy or starry stuff was something I didn't understand but that needed to be there. I think it is like His blessings, the blessings of His grace. Like the stars, can we count the snow? Can we count how great & how many are His blessings to us in Christ, in His grace? We live and rest under the falling the snow of His grace. He makes us whiter than snow and covers us with His freely falling righteousness. His snow is ever, ever falling around & on us, even as we rest in Him.
Finally when I looked at His love & rest in the picture, at His closed eyes, I thought of Him on the cross as He said, "It is finished." It was finished, He had redeemed us; He had bought us & brought us under His wings, into His love with the Father forever. He had opened the unceasing blessings & grace of Heaven on us forever. It is finished, and here we are.
Under Your wings I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust You; I know You will keep me,
You have redeemed me, and I am Your child.
Under Your wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How my heart yearningly turns to Your rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed.
Under Your wings, what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life's trials are o'er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus, I'm safe evermore.
Under Your wings, under Your wings,
Who from Your love can sever?
Under Your wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.
- from the hymn by William O. Cushing
No One Like You! (1)
By Ramone - April 5, 2006
"There is none like You
No one else could touch my heart like You do
I could search for all eternity long
and find there is none like You."
We've worshipped God with these words, but then He suddenly turned them around on me, and I can barely fathom the depths of His love for me!
"There is no one like you
No one else could touch My heart like you do
I could search for all eternity long
and find there is no one like you!"
The cherry blossom ("sakura") blooms in the early springtime for only two weeks, maybe, and then the blossoms fall to the ground. When the sakura bloom in Japan, we don't want to miss it -- we want to do everything we can to enjoy it while its here. The Japanese love the sakura blossoms (and so do I!).
I thought this is like how God loves us. He has waited and watched through all eternity for our arrival, for our blooming. He waited and watched for you, not wanting to miss you. He died to purchase you! He bought the whole tree, the whole ground! And when your blossoms fall, He bends down to collect you, each one, not wanting any one to be lost or forgotten.
Your life is a precious, long-awaited blossom to Him. Your time is short here before you fall, but He has waited for all eternity to see you, and wants to enjoy you and catch you & me when our time is finished. You are precious and loved, eternally loved.
Touch our hearts, Jesus, with Your love for us. How is it that You can say we're more precious to you than these beautiful blossoms? That You've awaited us for all eternity?
(See Part 2)