Archives, Biography, Pondering, Songs of Assent, Wheaton

Our Sun and Shield

This morning I sat out in my garden–well, to be accurate, I sat bundled up in my garden, with a crocheted shawl flung around my head, a tartan plaid enveloping my shoulders and a old fleecy blanket tucked around my knees. But I was IN my garden, hearing the birds, feeling the wind, enjoying the beauty of a long-yearned for spring in Illinois.

Spring in a cold-weather climate is such a picture of simplicity. “Let it be to me according to your word” is the quiet whisper of a creation that awakens when, and only when, the Master calls it into life. In this matter of gardens, we can prune, rake and wait, but until the sun warms the earth and calls the little things into visible existence again, they stay hidden, waiting for the sound of their Master’s voice. “We have nothing but we receive…As makers made in the image of the Maker, we are also initiators and creators. But never first. The raw material of our physical and spiritual life comes at the will of a divine initiative that we have done nothing to capture. We are simply favored by God.” (Songs of Assent,“Simplicity,” 31)

This morning I sat pondering the deep meaning of creaturely dependency from my rather lumpy devotional posture when I read these words: “For the Lord God is both sun and shield; he will give grace and glory.” (Psalm 84:11) Sun: calling forth into life all that is creaturely and dependent. Shield: protecting all that the sun is calling forth into life.

And my thoughts went to this week, when the church around the world will celebrate one of the “quiet holy days”–so underplayed for so many of our communities–yet a moment in the church year that changed every relationship between heaven and earth forever. The Feast of the Ascension.This week we see our Lord Jesus triumphantly take his rightful place in heaven as the king of glory. The Second Adam is also our conquering elder brother. He has come home. The gifts of heaven have been opened to all who share in his inheritance. The sun that faithfully awakens physical and spiritual life and the shield that firmly protects it all proceeds from the glory of our Lord Jesus as he takes his stand at the right hand of the Father and, with the Holy Spirit, joins to pour out grace without measure on dependent, waiting earth of all kinds.

May our hearts be found simple this week. Our ascended Lord is our sun and our shield, and he does give grace and glory–no good thing does he withhold from us. Pentecost is coming, and one good grace after another still renews his favored, if yearning, creation–whether the work is underground or finally breaking the surface. Let it be to us according to his word.

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