I was sitting on my deck a few nights ago, watching the sunset when my phone dinged alerting me to a text message.

“Check out the clouds.”

I looked at my phone, then up at the sky. A good chunk of my view was blocked by our willow tree, which has been sprawling all summer with new growth. Even before I walked down the steps of our deck and across the lawn to see what I was missing behind the tree, I had an idea what I was about to see.

“Feathers?” I texted back.

When I got to the place where my gaze was unobstructed, I saw a large pair of wings stretching across the sky. I was in awe, but not surprised.

“Wow,” I typed.

Under His wings you will find refuge

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I guess you could say that seeing wings in unexpected places has become a theme for me this summer. A few months ago, my friend had shared with me her favorite verse and asked if we could find a way to paint it together. The verse is from Psalm 91:4, and it had carried her through an extraordinarily difficult season a few years earlier.

“He will cover you with His feathers. Under his wings you will find refuge. His faithfulness is a shield and rampart.”

With my new relaxed schedule this summer, I was more than happy to use my time putting the verse to canvas. I mean, really? What do I like to do more than cut words on my Silhouette and paint them on things?

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My first idea was to cut out a template of an eagle, adhere it to the canvas and then pour over it with acrylic paint. It sounded good in theory. But the result was a disaster. All of that wet paint seeped under my stencil, creating a mess of flowing acrylic.

After that, I tried a “messy paint.” I swashed paint across the canvas in random strokes. I cut out the verse in vinyl and painted over it with black paint. When I went to remove the letters, they were filled with drips and streaks.

Then, I tried watercolor… But again, I wasn’t quite happy with the result.

Finally, I decided to create a liquid chalk mixture and paint the wings and words on the large decorative chalkboard that hangs in my dining room. When I went to pull off the vinyl I had used to create an outline for the wings, it also ripped the black chalkboard, revealing the brown backing.

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Throughout the summer, I was facing many challenges of my own as I trusted God for my future. I had started out determined to find a way to create an image I could paint with my friend. But with each repetition, that scripture became more and more meaningful in my own life. I started reciting it when my mind would drift to unknown places full of anxiety and fear.

My friend also was facing a new challenge that was going to require her to lean on God like never before. The scripture was taking on added meaning in her life, as well. But repeatedly throughout the past few months, we both kept finding reminders of wings and feathers.

“He will cover you with His feathers. Under his wings you will find refuge. His faithfulness is a shield and rampart.”

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The last time I tried to paint the lines on my chalkboard, I had taken it outside so it could dry in the warm August air. I was frustrated that my chalkboard was torn and distressed as I pulled away the vinyl, and I decided it was time to give up and carry the chalkboard back inside. When I went to pick it up, I couldn’t believe what was right next to it.

A feather.

But not just any feather. It was almost exactly the same ombre shades of pink and beige I had used in the painting. It matched so perfectly that it was as if the feather had fallen from those inanimate painted wings.

I had been sitting outside for hours painting that image, and I had not ever noticed a bird anywhere nearby. In fact, in the five years that we have lived here, I don’t remember ever seeing a feather on our deck.

I had goosebumps. While my feathers were ripped and smeared, this feather was soft and intricate. I held it up to my painting and couldn’t believe how the colors blended so perfectly with the ones I had mixed for my artwork.

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Last week, I was reciting that verse for what feels like the 100th time this summer. The challenges in life have been piling up and repeating it offered a source of calm. My heart has been heavy the past few months because I have so many friends who are facing situations that seem impossible to bear. Where is God in all of this?

It reminded me of the book of Job in the Bible where God allows Satan to tempt Job by taking away everything he loved in life. I typically avoid reading the book of Job because I find the story so disturbing, especially in times of stress. But a passage from Job popped up in my daily devotional.

It was from the very last part of the book where Job is questioning God for allowing so much calamity to destroy his life.

The passage says God spoke to Job “out of the storm.”

“Where were you when I laid the Earth’s foundation? Tell me if you understand.

Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know?”

God continues for verse after verse, asking Job what he was doing when God created the entire universe. I love the sarcasm as God makes it clear that He is the one with all of the power, understanding, wisdom and ability.

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Under His wings you will find refuge

That passage ran through my mind as I stared up at the wings stretching across the sky. For months, I had tried to paint a simple image to depict the promises in Psalm 91:4. Each time, my attempt to create even the most basic piece of artwork had been a failure.

But God?

He can take the sky and use it as His canvas. He can manipulate clouds to create a textured medium. He can breathe and the sunset becomes his paint. He uses the brushes and colors of His creation to illustrate His greatness.

He can paint the sky with wings.

And if He can do that, I can also trust today that He is strong, powerful and faithful enough to do what He promises.

“He will cover you with His feathers. Under his wings you will find refuge. His faithfulness is a shield and rampart.”

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