Under the Shadow
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. – Psalm 91:1
Dots of rain, glistening like stars on a clear moonlit night, dripped from the trees. A thick cover of fully blossomed treetops had caused the back yard to look and feel more like the everglades than a simple plot of land in a neighborhood during the almost-gone heated summer days of September. Every single tree was chalked full of branches bending from the weight of their fully bloomed Autumn glory. The shadowy cover they created was dense and generous. It spread out like a canvas over the yard and blocked out the sun. It was the oasis of this old house – a natural arch comprised of hundreds of large, looming trees that provided a respite from intense temperatures.
But on this day, under these leaves, it was raining. The drops fell quickly and steadily as if they were coming directly from the drenching sky itself. Each branch, straining under the weight of the droplets it carried, bent downward as if it might break. The water moved from the trees’ trunks out to the tiny pointed edges that sprouted out in all directions. Water trickled down to the grass, baked and browned from the summer’s heat, creating a refreshing waterfall. The sight was breathtaking really – icicle like drops rhythmically cascading out of the tall trees and generating a symphony of delicate rain-drop music in the shade.
. . . and yet odd.
Because it wasn’t raining anymore.
The overcast clouds had long moved on. The gate of heaven’s tears had long been closed. Out in the open, where the tree cover was sparse and transparent, it was dry. Last evening’s thunderstorm had come and gone leaving only traces of its visit puddled on the side of roads running downhill into gutters and in muddy pools beside decorated doorsteps. On this morning, no wipers were racing furiously across windshields on passing cars and no umbrellas blossomed like colorful spring flowers over the heads of AM walkers. This morning, the sky was quiet. It was still – as if the morning sun had flipped a heavenly switch during its dawn.
And yet, under these trees it still rained.
The drops still fell.
The storm still continued.
The thick branches were so full that they brimmed over with excess and poured out onto the ground . . . and onto anyone who chose to stay underneath . . .
Underneath the shadow.
I, like most others, seek to escape the looming shadow of some trial or inconvenience that casts a darkening outline of difficulty over my life. I work hard to make it out into “the open” where there are clear skies and sunny days. And yet, I’m finding that God has a thing for shadows. In fact, His very presence casts one – one that can often be mistaken for a “less than desirable circumstance”. Somehow, in these overcast places, He has a way of collecting droplets of Himself that remain even after the sky of delight seems to have long hemmed itself closed. He doesn’t see this place as an ill-gotten valley to steer clear of at all costs. He calls this place a shelter. For it’s often in these shadowy places that His presence falls steadily. Inexplicably, a deep and meaningful experience with God keeps on drenching anyone who chooses to stay underneath the canvas of experience He has set before them. It can be so tempting to run away and dodge “divine cover” when the weather seems so much more favorable elsewhere. But here, in this holy and appointed place, is an abundant supply of Himself with the added bonus of the things He generously gives – grace, mercy, power, comfort, guidance. They drop down onto our heads and run down into the depths of our soul.
No need to hurry out from underneath this shadow.
Somehow, shadows become shelters where we experience a spiritual downpour that quenches our thirst and births canals of living water into our souls. Have you ever considered that the shadow you are contending with right now is purposeful; planned and prepared as a gift from His hand to you in order to offer you a chance to stand in the rain a bit longer than others; an opportunity to experience Him in a unique and extended way? Do not be dismayed by the shadow that seems to be cast over your circumstances, my friend. This could very well be the shadow of the Almighty – a covering that soaks up every bit of His goodness that can be consistently passed along to you. It’s an oasis that carries the drops of His presence and peace that will soon come cascading down.
At the right time, you’ll be ushered out from here and, if you’ve taken full advantage, you’ll be appropriately drenched; soaked from heaven’s downpour.
Others will wonder how you’re still wet when it’s been so dry.
How you’re refreshed when it’s been so exhausting.
How you’re not scorched when it’s been so torturously hot.
You won’t have to say a word. The droplets flowing from your satisfied soul will tell the story of the “rivers in a desert” (Is 43:18) that He laid out before you and the “fountains in the valley” (Is 41:18) that he positioned you to receive while you dwelt in the shelter of the Most High and rested under the shadow of the Almighty.
Priscilla Shirer, Going Beyond Ministries