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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Halted by our Guard

7-8 God guards you from every evil, he guards your very life.
   He guards you when you leave and when you return,
      he guards you now, he guards you always.
(Psalm 121:7-8)

When I was in the military, I had the unfortunate lot of pulling "guard duty" on a few select occasions.  The thing that struck me most was that I was guarding "stuff" that I had no clue that anybody would want!  Sometimes I'd be assigned to the motor pool - now, I ask you, who wants an olive drab sedan?  At others, I'd walk the perimeter of the base, looking for intruders.  Ummm....now, ask me if I EVER saw any?  Nope!  So, what was the purpose?  Simply because you never know when the enemy will attack, or at what location.  So you "prepare" for the worst!

Our passage today is taken from a psalm that celebrates God's watchfulness over his children.  The writer begins with the question, "Where does my help come from?"  David knew that his "help" came from God and no other source.  He points us to God at every turn.  Now, he tells us why he has this confidence in the God he can neither see, nor touch.  It is he who guards our very life, now and always!

To guard means that someone or something is kept safe from harm.  There is a watchfulness over that person or thing that keeps it out of harm's way.  Did you also know that to guard refers to keeping a watchful eye so that the one being guarded does not escape or engage in misconduct?  God does more as the "guard" over our lives than just keep us safe - he also keeps us from escaping his care, running toward those things that will harm us, and reminding us of the pain that our misconduct will eventually end up costing us.  What a faithful "guard" he is!

As my children were born, there were things I did to "guard" them from injury.  One of the simplest things was to purchase those small plastic caps that fit into the electrical outlets.  How did I know to do this?  Well, I learned by experience, of course!  I learned that bobby-pins placed in those small holes in the walls give you a rather significant jolt of "attention-grabbing" current!  So, I "covered" the small holes that could injure my children because I had already experienced the painfulness of "misconduct"!

God places "safeguards" in our lives, much like the outlet covers, in order to prevent loss, injury, or reputation.  Just like my children, we resist those safeguards because we think something "good" must be on the other side of the safeguard!  I watched as my children took small fingers and attempted to manipulate the plastic guards from those outlets.  Each time, I'd remind them that they should not play with the outlets.  Guess what?  To my knowledge, my kids never got the "jolt" of playing around with electricity!

God doesn't want to "keep us from the good stuff" - he is working overtime to keep us safe from the "bad stuff"!  Safeguards don't mean we aren't curious about what is "on the other side" of the safeguard (boundary).  All it means is that we have something that stands between us and that object of our attention.  God leaves the response to the "safeguard" he has placed to us.  Much like my kids pulling with all their might to get that plastic plug out of the outlet, we often find ourselves "pulling with all our might" to remove the safeguards God has placed in our lives.

Did you realize that there are a ton of synonyms for "guard" in the Bible?  Here are just a few:  shield, shelter, watch, defend, bulwark, watchman.  God must really want to get the point across that we need "guarding"!  The next time you see one of these words, look at in context of what God says he is doing for his children as their shield, their defender, a bulwark, or a watchman.  It may open a whole new meaning for you about the value of God's "guarding" of our lives.  

Aren't you glad that you have someone as dedicated to your safety on Guard Duty in your life?  The next time you hear, "Halt, who goes there?", you might do well to actually stop and ask why God is stopping you.  He is actually trying to get you to realize the error of your steps, not to keep you from something good in your life!  The first step to enjoying the safety of our boundaries in understanding where we are crossing them!