Walking to church early Sunday morning, the sun was blinding. It didn’t seem to matter where I looked, it was in my eyes. It is curious that during the winter we complain that we would like to see the sun more often, yet when it does make an appearance it isn’t there for long, there is no warmth in it, and it sometimes makes it difficult to see things clearly.
Our awareness of the presence of God is often referred to in relation to the sun. Habakkuk 3:4 says “His brightness is like the sunlight, rays flashing from His hand; and there he veiled his power.”
That’s easy to get our heads round in the summer, where the sun shines, keeps us warm, and is almost always visible. It is more difficult to remember that He is there in winter. Particularly at this time of year, the passage from Isaiah comes to mind “The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light. Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.”
I’m told that the reason for the sun appearing lower in the sky is due to the tilt of the earth. The sun is actually closer to the earth, yet we feel further away from it. It would be quite easy for this to be an accurate metaphor for life at the moment. I see the sun shining and expect to feel warm. Instead, the way ahead doesn’t seem as clear as it once did, and there is a cold bite to the air. Mum has gone, and somehow “feeling festive” seems wrong. There is an emptiness that a turkey dinner and mince pie simply won’t fill. Where is God in all this? Where was He when I needed Him?
The fact is, He was and continues to be, right there beside me. In fact, right when I need Him most, He draws close. The warmth I feel isn’t from the sun shine, but from being held tight against His chest, arms around me, holding tight. The security that this brings is so tangible. I am safe and protected. There is something about hugs like this. Not only do they make the ‘huggee’ feel safe, they also confer a deep love. I feel loved by God, and whilst I sometimes wonder why it was time for mum to go and see Him face to face, I have a unfathomable knowledge that I don’t need to know. All I need to know is that I am loved by the same God that loved mum, and that somehow, in the weave of eternity all this will be good.
I wonder if you have a similar feeling during the winter? As the shadows lengthen its easy to think that God has left us for a season, only to return when the season changes again. The problem with that thought is that God has promised “never to leave or forsake us.” To think that God has moved on to someone or something else simply isn’t true. It would mean Him breaking a promise, and that is something He cannot do. Yes, the visible light of His presence may have been hidden for a season, but perhaps that is because God is drawing us close. In the dark times, in the troubles, in the heartache the Father gently gathers us under his wings, like a hen gathers her chicks. When in this place of safety, it is difficult to see the sun. What we need to remember is that in these circumstances, the source of the warmth that we crave is closer than He was previously.
Take time to rest in the safety of His embrace. He is close. He loves you. He is protecting you. The time will come for you to be out in the open again, in the warmth of the sun, but for now just rest.
This Christmas, if you find yourself in the shadows, I pray that you will allow yourself to feel the Fathers embrace and that you will allow Him to gently protect you, and bring the healing that is needed so you can emerge, empowered and ready for the next season where He has great plans for you.