"Under Cover of Darkness"

We are blessed to have good neighbors! It is extra special to have professional firefighters on both sides of us and a retired fire chief across the street! A few years ago, one of them had to “rescue” me from the roof where I had been blowing leaves out of the gutters. It was a blustery day and I had not tied off the ladder on the back side of the house. As I finished, I was surprised to find that my aluminum ladder had been blown down to the ground by a strong gust of wind. This left me hopelessly stranded on the rooftop without a cell phone or a way down!

"Mom, does anybody see me?"😇

In my despair, I happened to look across the street and saw one of my neighboring firefighters who had briefly stepped outside. I immediately shouted, “Hey, neighbor! I could use some help!” He waved and was on the way. I will not forget his counsel as he put the ladder up against the house that day, “Neighbor, you might want to take some rope and tie it off on the gutter next time!” He winked and returned home with a little chuckle. The more I thought about it, the funnier it got to me as well! But I especially felt grateful for the timely rescue!

Good neighbors look out and care for each other! There is a sense of neighborliness and vigilance when we have lots of children running around, the dogs are playing in the yard, and during warmer days, the garage doors are open. You can never take anything for granted, but we do feel safe when so many eyes are open and on the lookout for mischief.

That’s why I was a little surprised last week when the firefighter’s wife told Monique, “I saw something beautiful in your yard this morning when I let the dogs out! And I took a picture, too!” It was a quick photo of a doe and her fawn scoping out our yard “under the cover of darkness.” We guessed they were looking for food. Recently, we have had other such “visitors” who have made the mile or two journey north of the Sangamon River where deer usually find habitat.

When used today, the phrase “under the cover of darkness” usually has dark overtones regarding something secretive, clandestine, or covert. Many modern military missions are conducted at night. This strategically enhances and often results in a surprising, pre-emptive strike. It is interesting to note though, that when you study the origin of the phrase, “under cover of darkness,” you discover that in its first use in the mid-19th century, that it connoted a “sheltering beneath something.”

Dottie Rambo and Jimmie Davis wrote a stirring gospel song that you will often hear during the Gaither Praise Gatherings. It’s entitled, “For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.” The song came to Rambo as she walked along a beach near her home at a low point in her life. She was dealing with a relational disappointment, and soon felt God’s unmistakable comfort in each line of inspired lyric.

The words, “I’m sheltered in God’s arms” remind me of one of the most comforting of  Psalms in the Bible. Some think Moses penned these memorable promises, “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty… He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter  you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid…” (Ps. 91:1, 4-5, NLT).

Jesus used similar imagery when He spoke judgment upon Jerusalem’s hypocrisy and hostilities toward God’s prophets and messengers. Yet, He tenderly invited God’s people to repent and change their ways with this yearning, “How often have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37, NIV).

We have an ever-watchful God. Nothing escapes His omniscient, all-knowing gaze. He observes and grieves over our sinful rebellion and yet, He promises to protect His children from the harms of the Evil One.

What makes you afraid in dark circumstances? Whatever you’re facing, remember the Psalmist’s assurance, “Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night!” God is a sheltering refuge! His wings of protection and love give us every reason for hope!

So, in the dark times, just trust God! Get in His strong, mighty arms and affirm, “He is my refuge and my fortress, in whom I trust!”

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com




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