One of my favorite things to do when I’m running is to listen and watch for birds. I have often witnessed birds take a few steps across the trail, then run and begin to flap their wings, and eventually take flight. It’s a beautiful process to watch them uniquely walk, run, and then soar to new heights.
After my husband’s death from cancer, a group of my girlfriends came over to my house and totally redecorated our bedroom. They painted the furniture, added new light fixtures, rearranged the room and found new art to spruce up the walls. They helped me to transform a place that had been like a hospital room for several months into a place of peace and refuge.
One of my friends, Bergann, sewed a beautiful blue and white throw pillow for my bed with these words stitched on it: “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge,” (Psalm 91:4). A pair of embroidered birds is perched on a branch next to the verse. This special pillow has moved with me to two new houses now. The pillow bears a message I hold close to my heart, reminding me of God’s comfort and faithfulness on my grief journey.
The psalmist uses several images in Psalm 91 to express the ultimate sense of security we can find in relationship with God. Verse 4 paints an image of a baby bird covered by his mother’s feathers and goes on to say, “His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”
Bird feathers are known to be a fantastic form of insulation against the cold. This is why many people love down pillows and comforters. Some feathers are coated with oil, which also creates a waterproofing effect to protect birds from rain and snow.
Throughout the Bible are many examples of imagery related to birds, feathers, and wings. In Ruth 2:12, Boaz encourages the young Moabite widow Ruth with these words: “May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” In Psalm 17:8, David writes, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Later, in Psalm 57:1, David says, “I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”
These verses emphasize God’s character as protector, comforter, shelter, and strength. When we are hidden in His shadow or under His wings, we are protected like a bird from the elements and from the Enemy who hunts us down. We are not left vulnerable and out in the open but protected in a safe place. The Bible does not promise us there will be no trials or heartache in this life, but it does assure us that Immanuel will be with us.
Running has been a kind of therapy throughout my life, especially through my grief journey after my husband Ericlee’s death. When I am on the road or a trail, God is faithful to meet me there. He runs alongside me. He covers my broken heart with His feathers and provides a safe shelter to share my feelings, my emotions, and my fears. He has been my refuge like He was for David, Ruth, and countless others in the Bible.
The other day I saw a photograph of a mother bird with wings extended like arms around her two bird babies on either side. At a quick glance, the babies looked like they were an extension of the mama’s body because they were enveloped by her feathers. The mama bird protectively wrapped her wings around her chicks in the same way God wraps His arms around us.
Friend, rest today under the covering of His wings. Let Him shelter your heart and provide the strength you need to heal and eventually soar through whatever difficult circumstances you are facing today.
How has God been a refuge and shelter to you? Can you think of any examples of times where you felt His comfort? (Please share in the comments.)
Dorina has written a book called Walk, Run, Soar, that will release in September 2020. Subscribe to her Glorygram newsletter for weekly encouragement and all the behind-the-scenes details about the book!