“Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge.”
I’ve heard it said that God meets us in our darkest hour. I don’t think he meets us there, like two respectable gentlemen before a dual. It’s not like you call God up for coffee and you both sit on opposite ends of a couch making small talk. You good? I’ve been better. You use two sugars, too? Get out!
Maybe you and God have coffee. That sounds very civilized. I am the messy one who turns my face from truth and ends up worshiping at my own alter, from my bloody birth to dyed roots, running for the edge and jumping off sixteen stories of a hard-fought and so-called-perfect life. I fall into depths so low I can’t breathe, my chest burning and my mind paralyzed by fear. The pavement is coming up quick and I wonder if it will hurt but it’s so dark the timing is off and I just want to make the pain go away. Surely this blow will just crush me like the coward I have become. And yet in this soul-battle I turn to see a wing, just a flash of it as it slows me down and breathes new life into my hyperventilating lungs. How can one see the corner of a wing in total blackness? How did God know I needed saving?
Jesus was born out of human blood and walked the dusty roads of his chosen people with his God-trinity right under his epidermis. Such knowledge would have burst out of my mouth like a secret and my heart would have exploded in tiny pieces because I lack patience and restraint and all other things the bible says are revered and godly and good. I’m just a Gentile sitting in the crowd waiting for Jesus to come take mercy on this fallen soul and I keep looking for wings that never appear. I scowl at the notion that things fly because all I see around me keeps falling into the ocean, sinking like a treasure ship. Jesus talks of mustard seeds and yet I am forever searching and running for the ledge.
When God’s stories were laid down like lines in the sand and truth was finally self-evident, when lives were transformed like loaves and fishes, Jesus died hanging limp with a crown of thorns. And yet wings lifted him, and carried him from the tomb.
God’s truth is eternal and never fails through the weeping darkness and blackest nights. And when we fall from grace with blood oozing from our tongues and our crumpled hearts are left in a pile of rubble, hate rising to our chests, we cower. We just allow ourselves to freefall into apathy.
And yet Gospel wings spread out before us wide.
One night, Jesus was born under the brilliance of angels. Instead of basking in this truth, we flip over in bed, grasping this world with our tight curled little fingers and fretting about money and marriage and health and holiday parties. We say it’s yours, Lord as we grab our own daily agenda and hold tight.
But in darkness you can’t see who’s holding what and where the bottom is, and God says it’s okay to just let go, uncurl your fingers, and let it all slip away. He meets us in this bloody blackness because it’s the only place left for us to turn and he says Sweet child, I’ve been here all along, you just couldn’t see it in your own reflection. God was born of blood and died of blood and washes ours clean with his grace. His feathers tickle our cheek as big hearty belly laughs bubble from our chest and we realize we are new creations, lifted and renewed and can soar like eagles. We will run and not grow weary, and will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31).
Oh, those brilliant wings. They were there in a dark night in Bethlehem and they were there in the courts of Jerusalem and they are here in the freefall, in the broken-down trailer in Alabama and the street corners of Midtown and the stench-laden cardboard boxes of Kingston, Jamaica. Even the girl typing away on the computer in a stone house on a rural road where children are tucked in bad and bibles are laid open and dinner is half-eaten. In whatever brokenness is dark and hopeless.
God catches us wherever we fall.