My reason for posting the verses yesterday is that my recent studies have focused on shelter, and a favorite hymn which was often sung in the church which I attended as a child has been in my mind for over a week now.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life with the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.
Each time I reflect on this topic, my mind travels back to a particular day from this past spring. It was a day away from the office, so I - like many of my neighbors - had an early start to the morning to work on projects out in the yard. I was abruptly jerked out of my daydreaming when I found one of my friendly neighbors standing directly behind me. He held a finger to his mouth to let me know that I should remain quiet before he stretched his arm out to point to the wooded area on the front of the adjacent yard. There, so close and so quiet, were a mother deer and her young baby... right there on our block. We are very close to the nearby wooded college campus and situated at the edge of town, so I see deer extremely often when driving to and from work. But, I had never seen a deer in our neighborhood. And, I had never seen a deer this small and young... and never seen a deer this close. I was in awe of their beauty. The mother watched the neighborhood carefully. The young one investigated the territory on four wobbly legs. Soon, the two scampered away, and I slowly returned to my yard work while thanking God for the gift of seeing them.
After taking a mid-morning break, I went back out to my yard in the afternoon to complete more tasks. However, a sound kept interrupting my daydreaming. First, I thought it was one of my cats mewing through an open window. Then, I thought it was one of the neighbor's cats. But, after checking out the situation, I found neither were true. The sound was persistent, and as the rain started to fall, the call of the mystery animal became louder. The trickles became steady rain, and the steady rain became a downpour. Yet over the sound of the water hitting rooftops and gravel, the cry of the animal became louder still. My curiosity wouldn't allow me to go inside, so I carefully listened for the cries... and they led me to the small wooded area at the back of my property. It was at that time that I found this young, fragile, beautiful creature hidden away in the brush and leaves of the tree line that separates my block's property from the properties on the next street.
I can't begin to explain the urgency of this tiny fawn's cry. After the rain stopped, it even increased in intensity and volume. Such desperation and such fear seemed to be pouring out in every call to its mother. I used my zoom lens to capture this close picture of the baby, but I was careful not to disturb it or the surrounding area. I tried to go back to my work, but the shrill shrieks would not allow me to keep focus. Faster and faster it cried. Louder and louder it called. I was very concerned about the little one, so I phoned the local animal rescue contacts. It was a holiday, so no one was available at the rescue offices to offer advice. But, after a couple of hours (with the cries continuing to grow), I received a call from a very kind conservationist who was willing to discuss the situation.
After hearing my story about the morning, he assured me that the deer would be fine and was in the best possible location for it to be. He explained that the mother clearly had been looking for a hiding place for her young one so that she could forage for food for the family while confidently knowing the baby would be safe from predators who would harm it. The conservationist assured me, that while the little one seemed terrified, it was in the safest place it could be.... and that the mother was probably closer than I or the little one knew. The little one so desperately did not want to be left in the wooded area. Yet, the mother was making sure that the dangers that come within the brightness of day would not harm her child, and she would come back in the shelter of night to move her little one to an even safer place. It was such a wonderful shelter the mother prepared that, if it were not for the cries, no one would be able to sense the baby deer was present. The conservationist reminded me to not come too close to the tiny deer and to call again if the baby was still there in a couple of days. But, he was confident that the mother would gently guide the baby to another safe location that evening. I went out into the yard to listen and check in about every hour throughout the day. And, then right after dusk, I went out into my yard to find silence. The baby deer was gone, and I realized the conservationist knew exactly what he was talking about.
When thinking on this, I can't help but reflect on how our Heavenly Father provides the same shelter for us. So often, I can call out... wanting something different than I have. So often, I can yell in anger about how things aren't going my way. So often, I can be discouraged by the picture of reality I see. But, even more often, I forget that our all-knowing Father sees a picture much greater than me and my limited scope. He takes care of my basic needs. And, when I get lost in the despair of my perspective, He knows what harm He is keeping at bay. He knows what hurt He is preventing from entering my life. He knows that the places He is preparing for me will keep away pain that is far greater than the pain I can imagine. In the times He seems so far away, I must remember He is the closest... acting as a loving, watchful father. And, in the cleft of the rock, I can be assured that His ways are higher than mine... His thoughts higher than mine. In His hands, I am cradled in His love and protection. In His shelter, I can rest, sweetly rest.