Wings of Refuge
May 23 2023 - Eric Buresh
If you have a few moments, do a mental exercise with me – in your mind, paint a picture that exemplifies how you feel about or view your relationship to God. What is the first image that comes to your mind? I do this occasionally as part of self-examination (2 Corinthians 13:5), and it is often really revealing to me. Sometimes it is not a very good or accurate picture, and that allows me to begin to work back toward relational Truth with the help of the Holy Spirit. That is at least one point of self-examination. To detect drift early.
This morning, though, my mental picture was on target. I saw myself as a fledgling bird, sitting helplessly in a nest I did not build, hungry, cold, and blown about by a heavy wind, and my Father majestically, yet gently settling over me to cover me with His wings and feed me the food He carries. I felt safe and warm despite the elements around me, well-fed by His provision, and at perfect rest under His wings of refuge.
My mental picture was not original artwork; David beat me to it. Psalm 91:4. But the story that came into my mind was out of the book of Ruth. I encourage you to read the entire book today. It’s only four chapters. The story of Ruth and her kindred redeemer, Boaz, is really a beautiful picture of Christ and us, His bride. In chapter 2, Ruth and Boaz have a short but important conversation. Ruth asks, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” (vs. 10) Boaz responds, “The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” (vs. 12)
I want to live my life like Ruth, with humility and dependent trust as I walk under the Lord’s wings of refuge. Ruth, as you know from the story, took enormous risks to obey God and follow Naomi. She did so confidently because she was sheltering under the wings of Yahweh. Once we are under His wings, the winds of life will keep blowing, but we cannot be harmed. His provision is sure. When we live with the perspective of a helpless bird under the wings of our Father, God’s worth and value is elevated in our lives. It is His strength and wisdom and grace that bring victory and joy, not ours. He is the focus of attention, not us. When we are under His wings of refuge, we have maximum joy, peace, and rest, and God gets maximum glory.
The alternative is heartbreaking. As Jesus cries, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” Matthew 23:37. Why were they (and often we) not willing? They (and often we) are Pharisees (self-justifiers). Arrogant. Entitled. We don’t want to bow down to get under the wings of refuge. Instead, we prefer to fight and strain to glorify ourselves by facing the world in our own feeble strength. We don’t see ourselves as a helpless baby bird until the lack of control and strength that is always present beneath the manicured surface becomes an indisputable and conscious reality in our lives. Tragedy strikes. When we reach that helpless point, it is often too late to find our refuge under His wings. Many hearts by that time have become hardened by too many days wallowing in the powerful grip of pride. Throw off the chains of pride! Let’s practice every day to humbly and dependently live under the Lord’s wings of refuge!