He was an impressive specimen of a man. Tall and handsome with broad shoulders squared back, he exuded confidence. In three seconds my eyes and brain had registered his impeccable dress. Dark suit. Shined shoes. Crisp white shirt. Yellow tie. “Now there’s a man I would be interested in meeting if I were young and single!” I remember thinking.
But I couldn’t imagine what he was doing in the makeup department of our local Dillard’s Department Store. “Maybe a special event for one of the high end makeup lines and they’ve flown a makeup artist in from New York or Atlanta?” was my first guess. But when I noticed he was looking at his cell phone and not helping customers I determined he was most likely waiting on his wife while she shopped.
Then I saw her – the First Lady of the State of Arkansas. Elegant and smiling, she visited with the clerk behind the counter as she sampled a skin product. I had seen her picture many times in local magazines, the newspaper and on TV but had never met her in person. As I breezed by the other side of the counter on my way to the clothing department I turned my head her way to get a good look at the lady who lived in the Governor’s Mansion.
When I approached the counter’s edge his eyes immediately locked onto me. The slight blur of motion caused by my entering the periphery had caused his entire body to come to full and immediate attention. I could feel his intense gaze tracking my every move. His demeanor created an instant barrier that told me not to come any closer. Thinking that if I reached into my purse for even a stick of gum I might be tackled to the ground, I was careful to avoid sudden movement. The protection created by the body guard was almost tangible and the authority with which he executed his duties was both impressive and undeniable.
His demeanor created an instant barrier that told me not to come any closer.
As I drove home that day I thought of the verse in Proverbs 15:3 that says “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good” and how knowing that fact gives me peace. It frees me to live my life focusing on the positive things He has assigned for me to do rather than worrying over the negative events that may or may not ever happen.
As a child I can remember my mother praying over my sister and me each morning before we left for school. By calling on the Lord, she was sending an unseen bodyguard with us when she couldn’t be there to protect and provide supervision. Although it sometimes irritated me that we couldn’t leave for school before that morning ritual, I’m sure it also gave me a certain sense of security.
By calling on the Lord, she was sending an unseen bodyguard with us when she couldn’t be there to protect and provide supervision.
There have been specific incidents in my own family’s life where I have been certain of God’s intervention and protection. Those remembrances serve to increase my faith in the power of prayer and my belief that I can trust Him with all that is dearest to me.
“This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him.” Psalm 91:2
To be perfectly honest, sometimes I feel where I need God the most is not on the outside of me protecting me from physical hurt and harm, but rather on the inside of me protecting me from things like anger, resentment, bitterness and a spirit of criticism. These are the very real dangers that threaten to damage or destroy my soul, the ones that cannot be restrained with a gun, a taser or any degree of physical force. And yet they may be the ones most likely to ultimately destroy me.
When I read the promise of protection in Psalm 91:11-12 – “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” – I think of it as referring to more than just those things in the physical realm. How many times have you been “tripped up” by stumbling on the stone of hurtful words, an emotionally damaging experience or a painful disappointment? It is then we truly need His angels to “bear us up” or even KEEP us up so we can keep going after the fall.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23
Protection of our hearts is just as important as protection of our physical selves. A violated and damaged heart can cripple us just as badly as a damaged limb. A wounded spirit affects our thoughts, our speech and our reactions to everything and everyone around us. It is then we need to repeat King David’s plea recorded in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
Because we live in an imperfect world with imperfect people (and are imperfect ourselves), it is inevitable that we will experience loss, disappointment and pain. The job of the Holy Spirit, our “heart guard”, is to provide a barrier between those experiences and the core of our inner man where the essence of ourselves is contained.
It is good to ask the Holy Spirit to alert us to those things which might hurt and harm our spirits and then to ask for His power to resist their negative pull. He is always standing ready to come to our aid, as is declared in Psalm 32:8, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”
Just as the strong bodyguard I encountered in the department store created an instant barrier of physical protection, so the Holy Spirit can serve to protect our inner selves from harm. Not only do I never want to LEAVE home without Him, I also never want to BE at home without Him!
Come, Holy Spirit, I pray. . .