God is a Good Father: Psalm 46:1


“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 (KJV)

Animals find me—horses, cows, dogs, cats, and birds. For some reason, they see me as a refuge. It’s a privilege to provide shelter, comfort, and presence for animals needing help in hard times and trouble.

The baby red-tailed hawk, featured in the photo above, was kicked out of its nest and swooped toward my chair while I read a fast-paced romantic suspense. Reflexes kicked in. I covered my head, thinking it would strike—gouging my eyes or scalp—with claws like an Alaskan arctic tern divebombing anyone who fished too close to its nest.

But this baby hawk was lost and scared, not defending itself. Mommy Hawk was away hunting mice from a perch high on a galvanized steel irrigation pivot on our property. I walked around the mother bird daily, almost underneath her wings, but never saw her youngster with her.

Her baby must have spotted predators in the wheat. Perhaps that’s the reason the hawk stayed with me so long (long enough to poop twice in my husband’s chair and for the sun to fall below the horizon).

When the air temperature cooled, I slipped inside the house and watched the bird through the window. The hawk baby looked back. I didn’t know if it could fly back to the nest or survive the night. My last sighting of the juvenile, it half-waddled beneath the fence and disappeared into the brush.

Mid-morning the next day, when my dog and I walked underneath the pivot, I spotted the mother and baby soaring over the barn. The mother came in for a graceful approach and landed on the roof. The juvenile lined up for landing, aimed for the cupula at the top of the barn, and executed a go-around at the last minute. The mother’s squawk—more like the drawn-out cry of an animal in trouble—sent shivers up my back.

Seventy-five feet away, the baby veered toward one of our apple trees. The branches quivered and bent under the weight of the bird but held. My Belgian sheepdog stared at the bird, mesmerized like watching a television show. Five minutes passed, most likely enough time for the juvenile to recuperate and join the mother hawk for another round of soaring over green pastures, with plenty of hiding places and fence-post practice targets.

Today, I can drive my car ten feet past the mother and grown-up hawk perched on a fence post and hunting mice. They don’t fly away. Sometimes, I roll down my window, take a photo of them, and spot their eyes staring right past me toward my dog.

I hope one of the reasons the baby doesn’t fly away when it sees me is because of its memories. The remembrance of hanging out with me near the backyard, perched on my husband’s favorite lawn chair, and watching me read a book.

While I was a refuge for the hawk baby, God is my ultimate refuge. Just like my Good Father in heaven is a sanctuary in times of trouble or loneliness, I must have provided shelter and comfort by simply being there for one of God’s creatures in need.


When I walk with my dog and see the hawks perched on the pivot or soaring below the clouds, their regal appearance reminds me of how I can count on my Good Father and of Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” His presence is a comfort to my soul and a shelter where I always feel loved, safe, and secure.