Under His Covering
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things.
When my friend Renae invited me to her country home for coffee and conversation, I eagerly accepted. After a long, refreshing talk, we toured the land around her house. Her husband, a teacher and part-time landscaper, had created several lovely sitting areas and interesting outbuildings around the property.
Not far from the house, Renae pointed out a small pond. “We built the duck pen first, but later decided to build homes for the birds. We wanted to keep them safe when they enjoyed the water,” she said.
I exclaimed over the craftsmanship of the two small abodes. The first was built to look like a Japanese pagoda. A foundation had been laid on four stilts, which secured the building to the pond floor. Tiny wooden steps led from the base of the duck house to the upper level, which was covered by a large peaked roof. It was beautiful, well-built, and practical.
“The ducks are dumb. They don’t use them,” Renae explained. “They sit on the pond, out in the open, and sometimes get killed and eaten by falcons.”
“What? Are you serious?” I asked. She nodded.
It struck me later that God is like Renae’s husband—a master craftsman who has given us everything we need. His gifts are beautiful, well-built, and practical.
We, however, are like the ducks. Instead of accepting his grace, strength, and mercy for our daily challenges, we attempt to live life on our own terms. Then, when Satan throws hardship, temptation, or other spiritual arrows at us, we are vulnerable. Often, we get eaten alive.
I want to be more like Mary and less like a stubborn, silly duck. When God sent an angel to the young Jewish girl, Gabriel told her that he had chosen her to be the womb for the Messiah. In faith, she accepted that her heavenly Father had favored her above every other human being. She trusted him to provide for her in myriad ways and leaned on him to give her strength throughout Jesus’ birth and life. She lifted the name of God high, instead of lifting up thousands of questions, as I would have been tempted to do.
The wise men gave three presents to the baby Jesus, but God also gave three presents to Mary. He gave her the Messiah, but he also granted her joy and peace. I’m so thankful she opened all three gifts.
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION:
Has God granted you a spiritual gift that you haven’t opened out of rebellion or apathy? Confess that to the Lord, and make things right with him. Has there ever been a time when God protected you from something because you trusted in him and followed his commands? How can you encourage those in your community to seek shelter with God this week?
Father, you have graciously granted me everything I need for this life and the next. Forgive me for the times I’ve taken your gifts—both the spiritual and material—for granted. Help me to trust you in every circumstance. May I say with Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord!” Father, use me as an instrument to meet the needs surrounding me, through your grace, strength, and mercy. Amen.
READ THE PASSAGE IN CONTEXT:
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.