This last week Mother Nature decided to move her radius and we are no longer within the bulls-eye of heat. I can actually go outside in the morning (past 8:00 even) and enjoy a walk. The kids and I try to get at least one mile in every morning and Saturday morning was no different, except the boys decided they didn’t want to go this time. Since Daddy was home, I closed the front door and smiled to myself. My neighbor waved and called out, “Where’s your luggage today?”
“They are off with Grandmom or Dad, so I get to walk by myself.” And I’m so glad I did. I hadn’t even logged a half a mile when I came up to a field. I always stay close to the side of the road, but never get in the brush; ticks find me too delectable and I magnetize them when I brush up against grass. But today something caught my eye. Out of my peripheral vision, I thought I saw a large stick on the side of the road, but on further inspection, realized an 18-inch Copperhead swiggled and raised its head at me. Surprisingly, I didn’t scream, but backed quickly away, shocked that I hadn’t been bitten by the varmint. Another jogger in an ARMY t-shirt (something about those shirts always calms me) came up and I warned him, “Watch out; there’s a copperhead.” I took the long way back around and glanced over my shoulder as he squatted down to get a better look. Obviously, the guy was deliriously foolish or possessed ignorant courage. When I looped back, he pointed, “Did you see?” He held it up and asked me. “Oh man, I’m so glad you killed it,”I responded. His smile was about as long as the snake. I think he had intentions of taking it home with him as some sort of trophy. Uck.
Heading home, my heart in the vice of adrenaline, I thanked God. Only by your hand. Thank you it didn’t bite me. Thank you the boys weren’t with me. Thank you someone else was close. Thank you I had the wherewithal to look around. Thank you for protecting me. Only by Your Hand.
How many times have I averted danger, not because I was courageous, or aware, or even in control, but because of God’s protective hand. I stumbled and remained unsure, but God provided a way out. Does He always protect us from danger? No, naturally. We live in a broken and evil world, full of devastation. My own brother has been bitten my a copperhead and endured excruciating pain because of it. But even so, God saw him through that situation as well.
The crisis will come, but we can find stability in Christ. In His Word, He offers perspective and protection.
Take up our weapons, aware of the enemy’s tactics to knock us on our feet. “Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does” (I Peter 5:8-11 MSG). What weapons does He give us? Truth, righteousness, faith, peace, our salvation, security in the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God.
Look at what God is doing. Yes, you won’t have to search long to find the disasters, but neither do you need to look far to find the delights. He is always working and keeping and restoring and redeeming. “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.” (Prov. 29:18). “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). “The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works” (Ps. 145:9).
Evaluate your heart. When we hoard bitterness, hatred, arrogance, rage, judgment, laziness, and envy in our hearts, we open the doors to unwelcome house-guests. They will take more than they promise to give and while abiding there, they will unlock the back door to your worst Enemy. “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control (Prov. 25:28). “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” Prov. 4:23).