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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Shadow

Last night I went for a run in the rain.  It was a warm autumn evening and the golden leaves paved the road as I imagine the streets of Heaven are paved.  The rain fell gently, and then it picked up.  Drop after drop, down from the gray, shadowy, dim-lit sky, hitting my face and refreshing my soul.  It felt like one million raindrops, and I thought to myself, "These raindrops are teardrops from heaven, tears of gratefulness...the tears my soul wants to cry but has not the strength to yield."  I wish I could number the raindrops. I wish I could cry one thousand times one thousand and show the gratitude of the depths of my soul for all of the gifts, for all of the prayers, for all of the goodness that I do not deserve, but have received over the past few days...It was a beautiful night. A night with a shadow hovering over and rain pouring, but all the while a beautiful night.

This morning I woke at the ridiculous hour of 4 am, but all for a good reason.  I had the incredible opportunity to sing in my home state at Delaware's Annual Leadership Prayer Breakfast.  It was truly a special event. 
It was one of those mornings where the Lord just seemed to be so present, so near.  My pastor was there. Friends I hadn't seen in a long time.  Business folks and professionals from all over our small-wonder state.  A bright and bustling atmosphere...but with it's own shadows hovering.  I talked with a friend whose precious adopted baby girl is going in for major heart surgery in November.  I sat by another friend who just recently lost their 5 month old baby boy.  Shadows linger...they hover as we try to move on and out into the light.  We feel alone and caught and afraid, in the cold, in the dark.  Where is God?  When will the light break through?

My heart asks, "Could the shadow actually be the very thing revealing His grace, His protection, His love?  What appears to be haunting us as darkness...could it just be the shade from God's expansive, hovering wing?"


    His Voice Answers...


Psalm 91:1  "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]."


    And our hearts cry out...


Psalm 57:1 "Be merciful and gracious to me, O God, be merciful and gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge and finds shelter and confidence in You; yes, in the shadow of Your wings will I take refuge and be confident until calamities and destructive storms are passed."


Psalm 63:7 "For you have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I will sing for joy."




We are given a glimpse into the mysterious promise of the shadow.  The shadow of God's great, compassionate, protective wing.  It is under His mighty hand that we rest and we are safe.  Two autumns ago, I wrote the above song, "Shadow," and singing it this morning, the lyrics feel more true and relevant than ever.  When I wrote it, I was sitting at our family piano, in the middle of storm Sandy, which devastated so many parts of the east coast.  On that gray, dark day I gazed up at this frame...




It reads a promise from Deuteronomy 33:12  "...The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long..."

The story behind this antique framed verse is jaw-dropping.  Let me tell you the background... My Great-Great Aunt Ruth was a missionary in China for 50 years.  She devoted her whole being to Christ and she passionately carried the Gospel to the Chinese people over the greater span of her life.  She founded China Bible Seminary in Shanghai, and I can only imagine the countless Chinese who know Jesus today because she was such a brave, bold woman who gave and served without hesitation.  I never met her, but my Grannie told me story after story about China and amazing Aunt Ruth.  Just to give you a glimpse, Ruth Brittain was imprisoned twice- once by the Japanese when they invaded Shanghai, and then later by the Communists.

One time she had to flee her house as the Japanese were shooting up the missionaries' homes.  She left all of her belongings and escaped for her life.  This framed verse was hanging in her home at the time.  It was left with everything else to be ransacked by the soldiers.  They shot through the rooms of the home, and wouldn't you know, a bullet was lodged in this wall-hanging.  Do you see it in the upper left corner?  I'm not sure of all the detailed events that followed this dramatic siege, but I do know the story about this framed picture...Ruth's friend recognized it at a shop some time later, bought it, and returned it to her!

This story about Aunt Ruth still amazes me today.  The verse from Deuteronomy. The meaning of the Word in that picture. The bullet. The Lord protecting His beloved.  It pierces me with its promise, so much so, that the words found their way into the lyrics of my song, "Shadow" when I wrote it two years ago.  Every time I sing that song, I think of brave Aunt Ruth who lived her whole life under the shadow of God's mighty wing.  I want to live like that.  I want to never leave the shadow-place in search for the easier, sunnier road, because I want, I long for, my Lord's protection.  Here is a picture of Aunt Ruth.  Can you see it in her eyes?  Her confidence and shelter were found in none but Christ.



May your heart today find comfort and strength under the shadow of God's mighty wing. Even during the grayest day and the darkest night, may you find yourself taking refuge in Him, for you are beloved in the Lord's eyes and you are safe under His loving Hand.


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Shadow
by Caitlin Jane

Hide me in the shadow of Your wing
And I will sing of Your Mercy
Let the rain fall, clouds fill the atmosphere,
And I will hide under Your hand, Your hand.

Rock, Refuge, I look to only You
And I take flight
Clinging to Your heart, the good, the love,
I know that I’ll be fine

You don’t even need to speak to me
Your silent grace is my fortress
Webs and thorns surround this tower now
Yet I will gaze into the distance, the distance

Rock, Refuge, I look to only You
And I take flight
Clinging to Your heart, the good, the love,
I know that I’ll be fine

The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him
And the Lord will cover me all the day long
When the mighty waters rise, they will not threaten my life
Awake the dawn, and sing a newborn song

Even when the shadows fall, my heart will not fear
And when the peril comes, I trust you are near
When my bones they break, my eyes go blind, 
the tempests rage, it’s for me You fight
Your hope, Your hand will not let down, 
let go, let up, I catch sight again, 
I catch sight again

Take courage now, be strong and wait, oh my soul
For my Rock is eternal
I will not be shaken, I will be still
For the Almighty is my shelter, my shelter

Rock, Refuge, I look to only You
And I take flight
Clinging to Your heart, the good, the love,
I know that I’ll be fine,  Yes I know that I’ll be fine

Hide me in the shadow of Your wing
And I will sing of Your Mercy