We were standing in a circle in the dark of night. In this heavily forested area, our group was being led by a well-known ornithologist who for over 50 years has been tracking owls locally, banding them and recording information to learn more about their habits. We patiently waited for the birds to be caught in mist nets. The nets did not hurt the birds. Those caught were examined, weighed, and banded. Sexing owls in the wild can be difficult, so the ornithologist positioned each owl feet up and blew gently against the lower feathers. In many cases, the feathers would give indication of being broken or damaged, and in a circular pattern, a sign that the female had been nesting. Baby owls had recently taken refuge under those feathers.

God created mother owls to protect her “owlets” from nature’s harm and predators by hiding them close to her body, providing refuge and as well shielding them from any evil one who would deliberately lay a trap to snare them. What a picture of how God provides refuge for us! Psalm 91:1-6 comes to mind:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

This Psalm is one worth committing to memory, as its promises for believers serve as a rich and powerful reminder of God’s deep and abiding love for His own. For when we choose to dwell in the shelter of the all-powerful, all-knowing God, we live in His shadow. We are in constant communion with the creator of the universe, as close as a shadow, and shielded from all attacks. We outwardly declare our trust in God, testifying to His goodness and honoring His faithfulness. We do not call upon the Lord only during crises and times of trouble; rather, our trust is so great that our image of God is as an impenetrable fortress. There is no hesitancy; He cannot and will not ever fail us.

We are like little birds in need of protection. God will not allow the enemy to entrap us. Like the mother owls we observed in the forest night who protect their owlets, God spreads His wings over us as a shield that we can rely on. We have no fear, not by unseen things in the night, or by direct assaults in the day. To live without fear is indeed “peace which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7).

Where do you turn in time of trouble? Psalm 46:1 tells us that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Our troubles can cause fear, confusion, and anxiety, even a feeling of hopelessness. But when we seek God in prayer, He understands. “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether” (Ps. 139:4). God’s Word is our place of refuge and wisdom. “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him” (Prov. 30:5). The world will mislead us, and our hearts will deceive us, but God’s truth will provide the protection and security we need as we trust and obey.

Our all-wise Father has also provided the means to trust in Him. He has given us the power of the Holy Spirit, who abides in every believer from the moment of his conversion by grace through Jesus Christ. We need not fear because the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf in all our troubles. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26-27).

“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him” (Nahum 1:7). Lord, help me to take refuge in You only, seeking to be as close as a shadow for protection under your wings. Keep the enemy away and give me the strength to live according to your Word.

Photo by Stephen Tafra on Unsplash

Sharon Rockwell

Sharon retired from her career first as a chemist and then as a regulatory affairs consultant to the medical device industry. She has served on the women’s ministry team at Grace Presbyterian Church in her hometown of Yorba Linda, California, and has worked as the west coast regional advisor for the PCA. She and her husband have 4 adult children, and 6 young grandchildren (current score girls 4, boys 2). In her spare time Sharon enjoys cooking, traveling, bird watching and raising orchids.