Friday, February 12, 2016

In The Shadow Of My King

Immediately after I came out of the operating room from eye surgery, I had to be face down. I had to be like that for 7 days. Anyone who has had surgery for a detached retina knows the routine. To understand what a detached retina is, just think of the cloth headliner in your car that has started to come loose and fall down. The retina is like the headliner. It's sort of like the inner wall lining of your eye. And when it comes loose, if surgery is not done quickly, you will go blind in that eye.

The surgeon uses specialized equipment to go inside the eye and sort of tack-weld the lining back up with a laser. Some of the eye fluid is taken out, and a gas bubble is inserted inside. The reason for the bubble is so that it will float up against the inside wall, and gently press against the retina to help keep it in place and heal properly. Where the retina initially came loose determines what position someone needs to be for a week. For me, my detachment was toward the back of the eye, therefore I had to be facedown for the bubble to float up toward the back of my eye.

That means I had to ride about 45 minutes home face down, I had to sleep face down, I had to sit face down, eat face down, walk face down, and even go to the bathroom face down. I got really good at looking for lost objects on the floor. Forget watching TV, or looking at anyone, or looking out the window. It didn't take long for my neck to hurt so bad that I needed ice packs and heating pads, so finally I surrendered to the couch most of the time, face down.

Did you ever try to sleep face down? I mean with your face aimed straight down? God didn't design noses to be slept on. I tried special pillows, towels, cushions, and nothing was comfortable. This went on 7 days. That's about the length of time it takes for the bubble to dissipate, and the eye fluid to replenish. 

I dreaded bed time when I had to try to go to sleep for the night. I couldn't get comfortable no matter what I tried. Sometimes I would listen to music. Sometimes I would read a couple of Bible verses, but it was too painful to read too many. One night I sort of randomly came across Psalm 91:1. It fascinated me. Something about the imagery I guess. It says this:

"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." (Psalm 91:1)

It didn't take me long to have that verse memorized. Night after night when I couldn't sleep, I would repeat it in my mind, taking my time, thinking about the meaning of every word. I loved the titles for God that the verse uses, "the Most High", and "the Almighty". The term "Most High" implies that there is no one or nothing above God. He is way above all. And "the Almighty" indicates that He is the most powerful of all, and able to do all things.

I thought of the word "shelter". A shelter is a safe, protected place. Like a bomb shelter or a shelter from a storm. The verse gives a promise to whoever lives or dwells in that shelter, the shelter of the Most High. The promise is that person will find rest. Not only that, this rest or peace occurs in the Almighty's shadow. 

"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." (Psalm 91:1)

In other words, if you decide to live your life close to God at all times, within God's providence and protection, in His shelter, you are promised peace and rest for your soul. And who doesn't want to be close to God, close enough that you are in His shadow. And if you are in His shadow, He is nearby, He is right there for you, and nothing can harm you. I don't know about you, but I want to live life in His shadow. 

When I was well on my way to recovery, I finally began to feel good enough to pick up my guitar. One day I was playing around with a chord progression, and Psalm 91:1 came into my mind. I didn't really intend to write a song about it, but things seemed to flow and fall right in place, and it didn't take me long to finish a song I called, "In The Shadow Of My King". The song quotes Psalm 91:1, and uses phrases from throughout the Psalm.

Psalm 91 in its entirety is basically about the close, loving relationship that God wants to have with us. I love this Psalm. I made the song personal in the sense that I wanted to live not just in the shadow of "the" King, but in the shadow my "my" King -  the King of all kings, and the Lord of all lords - Jesus.

The first Sunday I returned to my role as Worship Leader in our church, I played "In The Shadow Of My King" with the band for the first time, explaining the song beforehand. At the end of the service, a friend of mine brought a woman up to me with tears in her eyes, wanting to thank me for my song. It was her very first time coming to our church. 

Earlier that week, she had just been diagnosed with lung cancer. She told me that her doctor, who was a Christian, gave her a scripture to read anytime she was feeling down. And that very morning, she said she had read that scripture just before coming to our church. Of all the scriptures in the Bible, guess what that scripture was! It was the very same Psalm 91:1 that I had memorized and wrote a song about, and decided to play that morning. Wow!! God's timing is perfect. I couldn't believe it. And right then, in that moment, I realized why God had me write that song. It was for her.

"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." (Psalm 91:1)