Word of the Month

The wings of God: Peace and grace

June 2012

In connection with a church dedication I recently stumbled upon a passage from the Psalms and was much moved by its powerful language and deep content. It begins with the words: “How precious is Your loving-kindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.” These words are based on the image of the Cherubim, which spread their wings over the ark of the covenant in the temple. These wings represent the protection of God. All those who come and go in the house of God are to experience this protection of God’s wings. These wings are the peace and the grace of God. After all, these gifts are offered to us in every divine service.

We live in a time in which there is a great deal of turmoil. I do not believe that this will change much. As long as we are here on earth and the day of the Lord has not yet come, there will be turmoil among the nations on account of the various signs of the time. But in the house of God we can come under the wings of God, His peace, and grace. If the peace and the inexhaustible grace of God are allowed to take their effect, all unrest can be removed. However, we must also seek refuge under these wings! We cannot afford to stand on the side observing them from a distance. This means, for one we have to first of all accept the word of God. Only then can His peace begin to take effect. If we sit in a divine service with a sceptical attitude and think to ourselves: “Well, let’s just see what we will be told today,” peace cannot enter our souls. But if we accept the word of God, peace enters our souls. Then everything will come into perspective. We will see that all the things that trouble us are only temporal, after all! On the other hand, it is also true that if we bow before the Lord in humbleness, we will feel the grace of God. This is difficult for us human beings, because we tend to be rather self-centred.

Concerning those who find refuge under the wings of God, the passage goes on to say: “They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house.” One of the abundant spiritual gifts we are offered is the love of the Lord. Our souls are filled with this love. The second such gift is strength of faith. Where there is strength of faith, there is also the necessary strength to carry burdens and the power to overcome. This enables us to put aside our old nature and open ourselves completely to the activity of the Lord. Another gift is the comfort we receive from the Holy Spirit. The above Bible passage ends with the statement: “And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.” If we surrender ourselves completely - if we absorb all that the Lord offers us - joy will well up within us like a river which carries us onward.

Let us be wise and seek refuge under the wings of God. Let us strive to be satisfied in the house of God. In other words, let us seek to be filled with His love, with strength of faith, and with His comfort. Then joy can well up in us: the joy of our childhood in God, the joy of our relationship with the Lord, and the joy of having such a wonderful goal of faith on which we can focus. Then we can also become worthy for that great day!

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)