Monday, May 24, 2010

In the Cool of the Shade

As I popped up the umbrella, while sitting at my daughter’s soccer game on a sweltering May night, I thought of my Grandma. I can picture her, perfectly rounded, seated in her woven lawn chair. A thin hat made of netting, rested gently on her hair that was routinely “done” by the lady at the local beauty parlor. She usually wore a solid colored skirt with a matching floral print blouse. She always smiled at me. She called me “Dolly.” She would sit and watch me play from under her umbrella; even at my college graduation she sat under her umbrella, in the shade.

As a little girl, I always thought it was odd that she would use an umbrella to shade herself from the sun. I thought an umbrella was really only practical in the rain. I was little and the thought of needing shade from the sun was not something I ever considered. Who needed shade? The sun was for fun!

But today, the sun was beating down on me. The air was thick with humidity, and my skin was glazed with droplets of perspiration (let’s face it, we women would much rather think of ourselves as glistening, not sweating – although, all said, I am not opposed to a good sweat). My breathing was a bit quicker, along with my heart rate. My eyes were squinted to a slit. It was hot.

However, as soon as the arms of the umbrella fanned out over me, I instantly felt relief. The shade – it brought comfort to me and relieved my body from the affects of the heat. My breathing slowed, my heart rate relaxed, my skin felt cooler and my eyes opened wide again. To use an old phrase – I had it made in the shade.

Psalm 91:1 says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” The imagery of “shadow” here is a Hebrew metaphor for protection against oppression, as shade protects from the oppressive heat of the desert sun. The Lord is the protective “shade” of His people.

What a powerful and practical picture, and what a reminder of God’s presence in our lives. When life becomes overwhelming and too hot to handle, only our relationship with God can calm the soul and bring us relief. It is here in this shadow of the Almighty that we find rest, a rest from our worries and our fears. In His presence we can be assured that no matter what happens, God is in control and covering us with His love, as we rest in the cool of His shade.

Dear Lord, thank you for all that you show us about You in the everyday experiences that you give us. Help us to remember when we are cooled by the shade of a hat or a tree or an umbrella, that You are our protective shade, bringing us relief and comfort from the heat of our circumstances, protecting us with your love and giving us rest. Help us to see it and believe it. Amen.

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