Blessings to All,
Have you ever had to work out in the hot sun, and then experienced the relief of relaxing in a shady place with a drink of cold, refreshing water? Or traveled in the heat of the day until you found a place to camp in the shelter of spreading, shady trees? Or seen a picture of a wilderness land in which the centerpiece was a huge rock casting a cool shade from the penetrating heat? I greatly appreciate the sun and all the wonderful benefits it provides but, in the heat of the day, I much prefer to find a shady, cool place to relax – or to work.
I grew up during the years of the Great Depression, on the great central Canadian prairie where trees were very few and far between. One could travel many miles across the vast arid plains without finding any natural shade from the heat of the sun. The only exception was in what we called the coulees where a little stream, or creek, could be found, bordered by willows and poplars; or the rare homestead where an enterprising pioneer had planted and nurtured a grove of trees for a wind-break. Often the only shade to be found where a child might play was on the shady side of the house. I remember times when my uncles would come in from the field when it was too hot to work. Grandma would make a jug of home-made ginger-ale, and we would sit on the ground on the shady side of the house to try to find some relief from the heat.
When the Lord brought His people, Israel, out of Egyptian bondage, He led them “through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea…and they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham – in the edge of the wilderness! And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light, to go by day and night. He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” (Ex. 13:18-22)
I can hardly imagine what it would be like to travel, probably mostly on foot, through desert territory under a blazing sun, with infants and children, the elderly, and carrying all their possessions. But here God provided a SHADE. The Lord Himself “went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud.” What a blessing that must have been! Even when they provoked the Lord with their rebellion and disobedience, yet He, in His “manifold mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day, to lead them in the way.” For forty years He “sustained them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing.” Until at last they reached the Promised Land. The pillar of cloud “SHADED them in the daytime from the heat,” provided a “place of refuge and a covert from storm and from rain,” protected them from their enemies, and led them through uncharted paths.
In thinking about this, there comes to my mind the 121st Psalm which I had to memorize in school some 65 years ago. “The Lord is your keeper; THE LORD IS YOUR SHADE upon your right hand. The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night…The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”
The Psalmist also pictured the SHADE as being provided by God’s “wings.” “How excellent is Your lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men take refuge under the SHADOW OF YOUR WINGS.” His prayer, oft repeated, was “Be merciful unto me, O God, for my soul takes refuge in You. Yes, in the shadow of Your wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.” Because the Lord had been his help, he rejoiced “in the shadow of His wings.” (Ps. 36:7; 57:1; 63:7)
A beautiful piece of music from the 1930′s accompanies these wonderful words by Dr. H.A. Ironside:
I’m overshadowed by His mighty Love,
Love eternal, changeless, pure,
Overshadowed by His mighty Love,
Rest is mine, serene, secure.
He died to ransom me from sin,
He lives to keep me day by day,
I’m overshadowed by His mighty Love,
Love that brightens all my way.
“O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, for You have done wonderful things. Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth…For YOU have been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, A SHADE FROM THE HEAT when the wrath of the cruel ones is as a storm against the wall.” (Isa. 25:1,4)
In Agape, Eulene