May the Lord Umbrella Over You

(Spectrumbot) #1

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore. (Ps 121:6-8)

I received a small bronze cross with German writing inscribed on the back. My experience with high school German was brief and unsuccessful. I took a few minutes on a Thursday morning to call Susanne, an acquaintance who emigrated from Germany to the U.S. during her college years.

Susanne is a professor and administrator at the University. She is a researcher and well-published scholar on public health policy. Her appearance and demeanor are cultured and elegant. Our previous interactions mainly involved my legal review of the documentation and contracts for her research grants.

I told her, “I have this small bronze cross that has German writing on the back of it. I can't really pronounce the words, but if I spell them out for you would you please translate them for me?”

“I'll be glad to try,” she said.

I spelled out the words, letter by letter, giving her the pronunciation markings, as well.

There was a long silence while Susanne worked out the translation. Her voice was warm and gentle when she explained.

“This is high German,” she said, “very elegant. It is a beautiful blessing. The translation into English will not be as exact as the German, but here it is. ‘The Lord will umbrella over you and protect you from all evil things.’ The word used for “evil” describes something awful, horrible really. So the blessing is ‘The Lord will cover you like an umbrella and protect you from all horrible things.’”

The lawyer and the scholar considered the implications for a quiet moment together. “That is beautiful,” I said after the pause. “I believe those words. Thank you.”

“I believe them too,” she said. “Thank you.”

Why do I believe those words? I have suffered horrible things. What sensate person has not? I am a believer because I’ve discovered the Lord beside me in the worst of the horror, the most devastating of the losses, the most painful of the rejections, the most abject of my shameful failures. I was surprised, even terrified, by his love in those times and came to understand his love for me would never be more or less but would cover me as I walked on.

The purpose of umbrellas is not to spare us the storm, but to help get us through it. David wrote that the Lord walks beside us through the long dark valley of death, not around it (Ps 23:4). Jesus said we would have many trials and sorrows in this world as a matter of course, but we could take heart that he received the worst abuse the mind of evil could conceive and overcame it because of his Father’s love (John 16:32-33).

I live in dry country in time of drought, but even I get a chance to use an umbrella, now and then. I see women on our streets walking under parasols to shade them from our hot sun as was their custom in their countries of origin. Over-exposure to the elements is lethal. Rain or shine, none of us is without the need of shelter.

The metaphor of the Lord as our umbrella represents amazing grace. Jesus Christ, our Creator and Savior, came and pitched his tent in our neighborhood. He came to live as one of us to offer us the tangible presence of God’s saving and sheltering love (John 17:11-12). It is his very nature and mission to be “a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat” (Isa 25:4).

The key to sharing an umbrella in a storm or the hot sun is to stay close and keep in step. God the Father sent Jesus to bring us in out of the battering storms and blazing heat of life in this exposed and ravaged world. Christ offers us the cover of his grace. “As God said, ‘I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people’” (2 Cor 6:16b, quoting Jer 31:1).

On a Thursday morning, a professor and a lawyer were quieted with the reminder that the Lord has us covered – a shelter in the time of storm.

Kent Hansen is a business and healthcare attorney from Corona, California. This essay first appeared in his weekly email devotional, “A Word of Grace for Your Monday.” Kent’s devotionals can be read on the C.S. Lewis Foundation blog at

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Thomas J Zwemer) #2

equally cogent is the recording of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, using the imagery of a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wings. The psalms are replete with similar imagery. they were well read during the Great Depression and during 16 months in the South Pacific. several times I was on shore before Mac Arther.,He watches over Israel. Tom Z

(Kim Green) #3

Very lovely analogy…He does shelter us. Thank-you.

(Tom Loop) #4

The message in this blog resonates with me very much. Looking back over my life, I can see that God has been there for me at those times of life when I felt like I was “walking through the valley of the shadow of death>” Psalms 23 has been a source of great comfort to me at time when I just couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. He doesn’t abandon us even in our wanderings from Him. He pursues us relentlessly, and weeps when we reject Him. Just look at the biblical narrative of how he was quick to accept and restore at the least gesture of one of his children who finally saw the path they were going was the wrong road. He never violates our free will. He loves us so much He even tosses roadblocks in our wrong pathways we take.

(Tom Loop) #5


I love that song “A Shelter in a Time of Storm.” It is rich with meaning, and I have cried at time as I have sung it. I suppose I am too sentimental.

(Kim Green) #6

No, not too sentimental…I love that you are so expressive and have depth, Tom. That song has wonderful word pictures that are so encouraging.

(Rohan Charlton) #7

Never too sentimental Tom.

Others take comfort in Bible math.

For me it’s The Good Shepherd. Abide With Me. Amazing Grace. It Is Well With My Soul. Oh How Sweet…Footprints.

(Caddy) #8

We are also under an umbrella of protection from the law. The law demands perfection under the pain of death. As we grow in grace Jesus, who is given all power in heaven and in earth, protectects us from the condemnation of the law.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Rom. 8:1,2.

If the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:
How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.2Cor. 3:7-10.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Gal.2:20

It’s all good!

(Andreas Bochmann) #9

Had to smile … the German translations (I am using Luther here) indeed use the umbrella when (as noun or verb) when the NIV or KJV use shelter or similar terms:
as noun
Ps 32:7
Ps 91:1.4.

as (ad)verb "umbrellaed"
Prov 2:7
Prov. 14:26
Prov 18:10

Each language has something to offer - and sometimes we don’t really stumble over it all that much, until it is translated into another language. :smile:

(Kent Hansen) #10

Thank you for this confirmation and insight. Susanne’s translation of “umbrella” helped me glimpse a God who moves with us, beside us and over us as we travel through life. The Lord provides grace for our journey as we move on. God is with us and for us regardless of where we may be. I am encouraged and thankful for this knowledge. Kent

(Carrol Grady`) #11

I love this word picture. I live near Seattle, where it’s considered a mark of nativity to shun using an umbrella, except during a severe downpour. I’m so thankful for the hard experiences that helped me learn to see a better picture of God than the one I grew up with.