I need to make a confession. Sometimes, not every time but too often, when I see the message light blinking on my phone . . . fear grips me.
I’m afraid of what the message might hold. See, I’ve experienced the searing pain of receiving words over the telephone that turned my world upside down never to be the same. I’ve known the loss that is experienced the moment you hear the words, “I’m sorry to have to tell you this . . .”
Some of these life upending messages came as a complete shock, others, like Dr. Koehn’s voice mail saying we needed to talk about moving my dad to hospice, were expected, but no less painful. Although I’ve received thousands of voice messages—why do the few that have been life changing ones, so often flash through my mind when I see the blinking light?
Why do I do that?
Why do I want to run from the blinking light on my phone? Why do I get that familiar pit in my stomach (like when I was five and my mom took me to the doctor’s office for a booster shot)? Or why do I get this awful feeling of dread (like when I’d hear my dad’s footsteps outside my room, knowing I was in real trouble)?
Why do I fear the blinking light?
I react that way because I temporarily forget that God is my shield.
Theologically I know that God is good AND sovereign. Historically I know that He is at work and His plan is good, and He is working all things out for my good and His glory (Romans 8:28). And experientially I know that when He appoints suffering or affliction, it always has a redemptive purpose behind it, and usually it involves teaching me some very important lesson (which I will at some point come to appreciate).
But I’m ashamed to admit that sometimes, more frequently than I’d like to admit, I forget that He’s my shield.
What is a shield anyway?
The Mirriam Webster Dictionary throws out a few helpful definitions for the word.
Shield: A broad piece of defensive armor . . . one that protects or defends . . . a device that serves as a protective cover or barrier . . .
I don’t have a lot of experience in using a shield. I’ve never been in physical battle (had to put that clarifying adjective there—I’ve never been in physical battle, but I’m continually involved in the spiritual onslaught of battle). But I’ve used different things as shields: procrastination, a critical spirit, a harsh tone, or intimidating demeanor. We can all use “shields” of our own making . . . but God desires for us to turn to Him; allow Him to be our shield.
God’s Word is filled with promises describing Him as my shield:
[box]But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. (Psalm 3:3)[/box]
[box]For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround him with favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:12)[/box]
[box]The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him. (Psalm 28:7)[/box]
[box]You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word. (Psalm 119:114)[/box]
And this verse in particular is one I clung to this past year:
[box]This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. (Psalm 18:30)[/box]
When I fear what the blinking light of the voice mail will bring—I must remind myself that no matter what news I receive: He is my shield.
Because He is my shield, I can be assured that although I may experience loss or pain, He will be my refuge in the lonely nights.
Because He is my shield, I know that whatever events lie in the future, they are not going to take Him by surprise or thwart His great plan.
Because He is my shield, I can take refuge in knowing that the story He’s written for me is exactly the one I need to live.
How has He been a shield to you?