On Monday, April 12th, I’ll be on Midday Connection talking about A Mighty Fortress. But now I want to move to a much more tender picture of the Lord, the one that means the most to me.
The following excerpt is from The God of All Comfort.
I’m not giving away Steve’s trench coat. I want to see it when I open the closet. I want to run my hand through its soft furry lining. If I have to run up to our mailbox in the rain, it’s that trench coat I reach for—a sheltering shield covering me from head to foot, protecting me from the wet, yet flooding my heart with memories:
*The day I met him—a cold February day on the campus of Northwestern University. He caught up with me after class and introduced himself. I was so excited that this man whom I’d secretly admired was approaching me that I was trembling. Steve thought I was shaking from the cold wind off of Lake Michigan, and there, right in front of Deering Library, with hundreds of students passing by, he gallantly took off his trench coat and put it over my shoulders. My knees nearly buckled.
*Our first date, just two days later—shy with each other while we were walking to the movie. Suddenly the sky opened up, pouring down buckets and buckets of water. Steve opened his coat and tucked me in, covering me, as we ran laughing into the theatre.
*Running into him by surprise downtown. We’d been married twenty-five years, but my heart still did flip flops to see him. I saw him first: taking long strides, looking strikingly handsome and masculine. His hands were in the pockets of that trench coat, his head down—concentrating, thinking hard about something. I stood still, right in the middle of his path, smiling, anticipating his reaction. Startled to be blocked, he stopped and looked up. A sudden smile of delight, then, that laugh I loved. He spread his arms, which opened his coat like sheltering wings, inviting me in. There we were, on Central Avenue, enveloped together, more in love than newlyweds.
Why do these memories of Steve in his trenchcoat warm my heart? Why do I love the romantic movies that close with a man, often in a trenchcoat, racing to rescue a woman in the rain?
Love stories that move our hearts, if we look deeply enough, point to Jesus. Watching rescue scenes in rainy romantic movies comforts me is because I am reminded of the ultimate Rescuer. I am reminded of Jesus, the Lover of my Soul, the One who will either stop the storm or will cover me with His wing, keeping me warm and safe until the storms of life are past.
There is a Hebrew word, “kanaph” used repeatedly of the Lord in Scripture — sometimes it is translated shadow or wing. It is also used in the love stories of Ruth and Hosea, when Boaz covered Ruth and when Hosea covered Gomer.
Here we go — I might tell you this is my favorite chapter in the book — so I’m anticipating we will have both a joyous and meaningful time as we search together.
1. For fun, what are some of your favorite love stories in books or movies? When your heart is deeply moved, often it is because it touches that deepest place in you that yearns for the One who will truly cover you. How can you see that? (Extra points for romantic rainy rescue movies!)
2. In the book of Ruth, how were both Naomi and Ruth “bereft” of their covering? (If you read the story in The God of All Comfort of my friend Jill, how was her bridegroom a contemporary kinsman-redeemer?)
3. The above painting by Martin French is from Hosea. These passages are challenging, but so meaningful, so go slowly.
A. What did Hosea’s wife do and why, according to Hosea? (Hosea 2:8)
B. Reflect on Hosea 2:15-17. God allowed Gomer to feel enormous pain from her lovers — but what was His ultimate purpose?
C. The scene in chapter 3 is cryptic, but important. Gomer is naked on the auction block, her lovers are selling her. What does Hosea do and say to her? (3:1-3)
D. How does this apply to your life?
4. Psalm 91 translates the word “kanaph” as wings in verse 4. What do you learn from this psalm?
5. What hymns or spiritual songs or even contemporary love songs remind you of this concept?
6. What are some ways the Lord has covered you — in the past, or right now?