We went shopping while it was raining. I got out of the van, opened my umbrella and held it so Chloe and Cole could get out. Together we walked toward the store's entrance, timing our steps so that we all stayed under the umbrella together.
For some reason, Chloe and Cole decided the umbrella wasn't working for them. They ran ahead, but when they stepped out from under the protective canopy of the umbrella, they got wet. Chloe and Cole immediately returned to the protection of the umbrella, matching their steps with mine so they could stay under it.
This is a good illustration of walking with our heavenly father. To his children, God extends a canopy of love and protection (Psalm 5:11-12). As long as we follow him and are obedient to him, he continues to cover and protect us.
But what happens when we decide God's protective cover isn't working for us? What happens when we run ahead, removing ourselves from under God's canopy of protection?
The same thing that happened to Chloe and Cole; those things from which that canopy protected us can now affect us. They can harm us.
I know what you're thinking. You're saying to yourself, "I've stayed under God's protective cover. I've been obedient to him. I haven't run away from him or ahead of him. But I'm still being affected by those things from which you say his canopy should be protecting me."
Have you ever walked with an umbrella? Whenever I do, I still get a little wet. The umbrella protects most of my body, but usually my feet and lower legs still get wet.
Do I get upset that the umbrella didn't keep me completely dry? No. Because I know that without the umbrella, I would be totally soaked, not just a little wet.
Even though God's canopy of love and protection covers us, we're still affected by the things of this world from time to time. We still have struggles, hardships, fears and despair.
But how much worse do you think those things would be if your heavenly father wasn't there at all? God did not promise we'd never have struggles in life. What he did promise, though, was that he'd never leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus said, "In this world you WILL have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33, emphasis mine).
A final thought. Perhaps God is using your hardships to grow you in your faith, to strengthen your relationship with him - as well as his relationship with you (James 1:12).
Parrish Myers is a local minister. His column appears biweekly in Sunday Life and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.