GRACE NOTES – PASTORAL LETTER 6.25.24

onthly memory verse: “The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; He utters his voice, the earth melts. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Psalm 46:6-7).

Dearly beloved saints of Covenant of Grace,

It was a joy and source of refreshment to spend time talking, learning, and worshipping with you this past Lord’s Day.  I have been praying ever since, asking the Lord to grant you to find refuge and rest in the shadow of His wings as you go through the week.  That particular idea – finding shade in the presence of the Lord – is obviously a relatable image at this time of year, and has been on my mind much as of late.

Just last week, this idea hit home as I took a few of my kids to track practice, and as I later had the joy of standing in line at the DMV.  Both occasions provided and opportunity to meditate on the unpleasantness of being unguarded from the scorching sun, as I stood outside sweating, face red and eager to find some small bit of shade in which to find relief.  Undoubtedly, you can relate.  Sunny days are beautiful, and it tends to lift the spirits to look outside and see the sun rising in clear skies to begin another day.  But, as the sun peaks and burns hot, we quickly come to appreciate the gifts of shade and air conditioning – of some space in which to enjoy reprieve from the heat.

Knowing all of this very well, the Lord takes up this imagery in Scripture to help us understand what blessedness belongs to those who trust in Him.  Take Psalm 121:5-6 for example: “The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.”

Here is something we can understand very easily from the physical realm, taken and applied not only to our physical wellbeing, but our spiritual welfare as well.  It is beyond question that all people face any number of trying circumstances throughout the course of life in this sin-marred world.  Sorrow, sickness, loss, and death aren’t the exclusive property of unbelievers, but affect us all.  Yet, there are also particular trials that Christians face because we belong to the Lord – trials designed for our growth, yet not therefore easy to endure.  There is the troubling presence of our own remaining corruption.  There is the sadness that weighs on our hearts as we think about and interact with unbelieving family and friends.  There is the grief that presses upon us as we look around and see great ungodliness in our land, and as we sometimes face personal animosity and persecution for living for the Lord and speaking according to HIs Word.  More could be added, but you know the reality of it all too well.  Living in this world, and, more particularly, living in this world as a follower of Christ can at times feel like the sun is beating down upon us, sapping us of strength and zeal to keep moving forward.

Yet, this is hardly the whole story.  As He provides many blessings common to all sorts of people, such as homes, shady trees, and air conditioned buildings, so the Lord provides particular blessings to those who take respite in Him.  To such as do this, He says He will be, “shade on your right hand,” so that, “the sun shall not strike you by day” (Ps 121:5-6).  The right hand is in Scripture representative of a person’s strength – our vitality and power.  And shade, well, you know what that means, representing relief and refreshment from heat that is, at times, otherwise difficult to bear, and which easily diminishes our strength and energy.  Such that, when we feel overheated, weighed down, worn out, and near to collapsing from all that troubles our souls, the Lord here welcomes us to turn afresh to Him, assuring us that we will find a cool place of rest and renewal.  The sun may beat down on us at times, but in the shadow of the Lord there is shelter, shade, and a river of refreshing streams to revive and reenergize the believing soul.

We don’t hesitate to seek out cooler temperatures when sweat begins to drip and skin begins to burn.  Let us not be any less quick and consistent in seeking spiritual shade when our hearts and minds begin to be exhausted and overheated from the difficulties of this life.  Let us not walk, but run into the shadow of the wings of the Almighty, resorting regularly to the Word, prayer, and worship, believing that the Lord will true to His Word when He says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty” (Ps 91:1).

In Christ,

Pastor Eric

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