Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Leafy Canopy

During these hot summer months my time walking has been spent in the nearby Pawnee Prairie nature trails. These trails meander from Kellogg to Pawnee and from Maize to Tyler. Depending on the day and my mood, I can travel through grasslands, through cedar forests, deciduous woods, or along the banks of the Cowskin Creek. My walking time gives me great exercise, a wonderful view, and an opportunity to clear my mind and come to that still, quiet place where I can talk with and listen to God.

Lately, I’ve chosen the trails that wander through the woods, where the overarching branches of the walnut, cottonwood, ash, and other trees provide a leafy canopy that protects me from the worst of the sun’s heat. Under this green canopy I find protection from the sun and enjoy temperatures ten to fifteen degrees cooler than the sunnier pathways.

As I walk, I listen for the telltale breaking of twigs or crashing through the underbrush that signals me to look for deer. (Earlier this week I saw five deer grazing, including two fawns with white spots still dotting their tawny coats!) As I walked on Monday, I heard a different sound, one I hadn’t heard before. At first I couldn’t place it, but then reality slowly dawned: I was hearing raindrops pattering on the leaves over my head. The rain was light and the leafy canopy caught all the drops; I didn’t feel one. All the green over my head protected me from both sun and rain. My protection wasn’t complete, of course. I was still hot on my walk and if it had rained harder, I certainly would have been soaked.

As I continued my walk, listening to the rain pattering overhead, I thought about God’s protection. He protects and shields us from the storms of life, but He doesn’t promise to remove them. Like a leafy canopy, He deflects the heat of life’s difficult moments and shelters us from life’s storms. But, just as I choose to walk in the shade on hot days, we also have choices. We can seek God’s refuge when life gets hot or stormy, or we can walk in the open, on our own. Which path will you choose?

Isaiah 25:4 “You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.”

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