“… His banner over me is love” (Song of Songs 2:4b–NIV).

The other day, my dear husband purchased something for me.

It was a dreary, wet and rainy western North Carolina day–the sort that makes me grumble, “It’s February. Shouldn’t it be snowing instead?”

Dodging raindrops as I ran from our daughter’s school building where I’d volunteered that morning to my van, I made a mental note. Get an umbrella.

Bill and I had a lunch date, and after, we had a little extra time before he needed to be back to work. There was a cute gift shop not far from the restaurant. “Let’s check it out,” I suggested.

Inside, I poked around a bit. Suddenly, my eyes fell on something bright and floral. Today is going to be the best day ever! was written boldly on the tag.

Just the reminder I need, I thought, picking up the item. And it’s an umbrella to boot. Perfect!

Finding Bill, I showed it to him. “I’ve been needing one of these,” I said.

“It’s awfully bright,” he replied–then followed the remark with a manly once-over. Opening it, “Is it sturdy?” (His name–William–does mean “protector,” after all). “Do you think it’ll stand up to heavy wind and rain?”

In truth, I hadn’t really given it that much thought. I was just drawn to the words written and the colorful pattern of flowers in a variety of pinks and purples and reds. I nodded. “I think so. Anyway, it’s so pretty.” (The practicality of staying dry had somehow been all but forgotten.)

We made the purchase and stepped out. Ironically, the rain had stopped, though the day still held that cool, damp chill of late winter. Giving Bill a hug, I thanked him again for lunch and the umbrella; then we parted ways.

Since that day a couple weeks ago, I’ve used the umbrella a couple times–though I have yet to discover if it’s sturdy enough to withstand stiff winds. I keep it in my van, knowing it’s there to keep me dry on a wet and rainy day. The words written in bold are a reminder that, no matter what the day holds, each time the earth fully rotates we’re given a new opportunity to make the ensuing twenty-four hours the best ever.

Kind of reminds me of David’s words in Psalm 118:24.

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (NIV).

Not, “If this day’s perfect and free from pain, rejoice and be glad in it.”

Not, “If you make it to sundown without any bumps, glitches, or detours, rejoice and be glad in it.”

Not, “If you feel giddy with glee from morning till night, rejoice and be glad in it.”

Truth is, David’s words only several verses earlier in this very same song say–

In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and He answered by setting me free. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid… I was pushed back and about to fall, but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation… The LORD has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death… (Ps. 118:5, 6; 13, 14; 18–NIV).

No. These words don’t say anything about our days being sunshiny perfection all the time; rather, they remind us that we will face hardships, storms, and suffering. Still–

His banner over me is love.

I’m also reminded by the umbrella itself–even void of the bold statement and bright floral pattern. It’s a piece of protective gear–specifically to shield its user from rain or other forms of precipitation. Just as my loving husband gifted me with a protective piece of equipment, our loving God gives us armor that we’re encouraged to put on daily (see Ephesians 6, verses 10-18). It’s God’s love for us that calls us to put on His full armor and to pray without ceasing, because prayer reminds us, even in the darkest, most dire of times that–

His banner over me is love.

Furthermore, the brightness and frill of this particular umbrella makes me feel like a little girl, and I’m reminded of something my mom told me when I was a child of about five or six.

God calls us–His children–to remain under the protective covering He offers through obedience to Him and His Word. Like an umbrella, we can gather there and stay safe; yet, we have the choice. We can walk away. To walk out from under God’s umbrella is to be disobedient. Though He doesn’t want this, He allows it because we’ve been given free will, but away from His protective covering, we’re susceptible to things that are not His best for us, and we’re in danger of suffering that which is not God’s desire. It’s only in staying safe under His protective cover that we can endure the hard things–the stormy seasons–in life with peace and joy. That doesn’t mean these tough times won’t come. They will. But within the loving fellowship of other believers and in the presence of our always loving, faithful Father, we can endure even the hardest seasons in life.

My bright and cheerful umbrella reminds me of this. Though it may not be sturdy in every storm, the reminder it offers–Yes, the echoes of my mother!–is one of full protection, no matter how blustery the day. And I’m secure knowing…

His banner over me is love.

Lastly, my sweet umbrella–whether opened outside offering protection from any form of precipitation or lying closed on the floor of my car–is a reminder of both Bill’s and God’s lavish love.

And with that, how could the day be anything but wonderful. In fact…

Today is going to be the best day ever!  

Because, truth is, God and Bill desire to protect me, and indeed…

His banner over me is love.

Yes–even when it’s in the form of a brightly flowered, quite frilly umbrella!

Heavenly Father, You are Lord of the wind and the rain. You love us with a lavish love. You protect us with Your armor and with the promise that, as we remain under Your protective covering, we will never be alone. Thank you for that, as well as for all those who huddle under Your umbrella with us. May we encourage one another through each and every season of life–no matter what storms we face. Each day, no matter what, is indeed one You’ve made and thus, we rejoice and are glad in it! Finally, thank you for those in life who love us best–whose banner over us is always and always love.  Amen.