As a child, when I saw a softball coming my way, I reacted by closing my eyes and putting my hands over my face! Even though I knew the ball wasn't especially dangerous, that was my response. Obviously, I was the last one chosen by my classmates when it came to playing outfield, or any position for that matter! They knew I wouldn't catch anything.
Closing our eyes or turning our head to shelter our eyes comes automatically to all of us when we see something really dangerous coming toward our eyes because we value that part of our bodies.
Recently, while reading Psalms, I gained a new appreciation of how God treasures and shelters us. The verse was, "Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of your wings" Psalm 17:8.
When we say someone is "the apple of the eye," we mean that we treasure that person above others. Charles Spurgeon has written an excellent description of how God treasures our eyes by creating the natural shelter in which they reside. "The all wise Creator has placed the eye in a well protected position; it stands surrounded by projecting bones like Jerusalem encircled by mountains. Moreover, its great author has surrounded it with many tunics of inward covering, besides the hedge of the eyebrows, the curtain of the eyelids, and the fence of the eyelashes; and, in addition to this, he has given to every man so high a value for his eyes, and so quick an apprehension of danger, that no member of the body is more faithfully cared for than the organ of sight."
The second part of the verse, "hide me under the shadow of your wings" gives us a deeper look into how God treasures not only our eyes, but all of us. Jesus spoke these words when he mourned over Jerusalem's rejection of God's teachings saying: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing" Matthew 23:37.
I believe that sometimes we reject God's offer of shelter just as Jerusalem did. We do, however, accept other kinds of shelters. For example, we'd head through an open door quickly if golf-ball-sized hail started falling. We'd scurry into a cellar if a tornado bore down upon us. We run to the helicopter descending to get us out of a burning forest. Let's not reject the shelter that God offers his children.
Our prayerful response to God's offer of shelter could be expressed in Spurgeon's words. "Even as the parent bird completely shields her brood from evil, and meanwhile cherishes them with the warmth of her own heart, by covering them with her wings, so do thou with me for I am thine offspring, and thou hast a parent's love in perfection."
Helen McCormack writes the Reflections column every six weeks. She and her husband, David, are serving with Wycliffe Translators in Germany.