|Photo by M62 2007|
Saturday, January 12, 2019
After midweek evening service at church a few nights ago, I had an unforeseen encounter with an invisible obstacle. As we returned to our car in a neighboring parking lot, I tripped over a cement parking block that was, at least from my perspective, invisible as I stepped down off the curb. The street light illuminated the car from behind, casting a shadow over the parking block, which had discolored to match the color of the pavement, giving me no warning of its presence,
As my feet hit the block and propelled me forward and down, I slammed both knees against the cement and my jaw and chin against the hood of the car. My first thought was that all my teeth had been knocked out, and almost immediately thereafter I was sure I had shattered both kneecaps.
Thankfully my husband was there to lift me to my feet and go running for ice, and my pastor and church family surrounded me with love, concern, assistance and prayer. I could feel the power of those prayers, and my fear was soon transformed into relief and gratitude that I was not seriously injured and would be left with only a few minor scrapes and bruises.
Like this incident, so many threats we might face are unforeseen and invisible – a burglar lying in wait by our doorway, a giant iceberg looming beneath the ocean in the path of a speeding ship, even a cancer cell lurking in our blood stream. We may believe we are invincible because of our high tech security system, the seaworthiness of the vessel, or our usually excellent health.
We tend to forget that we are undeserving of these unearned benefits, but that they are gifts from God (James 1:17), and that He could remove them at any time in accordance with His perfect will (Job 1:21). Yet for His children, who are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way (John 14:6) to Heaven, God works all things together for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
How many times have we complained about some minor inconvenience, like being delayed at a traffic light, while being unaware that He is actually protecting us from an accident further down the road, invisible to our eyes yet clearly perceived by His perfect radar.
We worry about what is in our sights, as it distracts us from what may be far worse. We may think we see clearly because what we are looking at is well illuminated, as was the car in this incident, yet are we vigilant (1 Peter 5:8) about what is hidden in the shadows? Only God knows all things (Job 42:3; Psalm 139:6), past present and future, while we are blissfully unaware of many dangers threatening our physical safety, our emotional wellbeing, and our spiritual wholeness. Yet His unseen hand protects us from these and more (Exodus 32:11; Deuteronomy 3:24; 4:34).
As I thought of the force of the impact and the unforgiving nature of the surfaces my body fell against, I realized how miraculous it was that I walked away with only a little swelling and a few scratches. Thank you, Lord Jesus! Injury to my jaw could have silenced my teaching and singing ministries, and fracturing my knees could have ended our dance ministry. Yet God in His grace and strength empowered me (2 Corinthians 12:9) to resume singing and dancing the morning after I fell!
As I thanked and praised God for His protection, this portion of Psalm 91 came to mind:
Psalm 91:9 Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Similar passages recur in the Gospels (Matthew 4:6; Luke 4:11), emphasizing the importance of the angels, or ministering spirits, God sends to protect those who are or will become His children (Hebrews 1:13-14). In the Old Testament, angels sometimes appeared in the form of strong men (Genesis 18), and sometimes they were invisible to men yet perceived by animals (Numbers 22:21-34). But often our senses may be blinded to the spiritual warfare raging around us, with Satan and his demons seeking to devour us while angels protect us from this onslaught (Ephesians 6:12).
All of Psalm 91 describes various dangers against which God is our shield and refuge. As I was so dramatically reminded, His unseen angels can even hold us as we stumble, lessening the blow that Satan would deal us. We can’t see the prayers of saints who intercede for us, but we can feel their power (James 5:16) as they ascend to His throne (Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4) and radiate blessings back to us.
Dangers hidden from our limited perception may be invisible, but our God is invincible! His angels and the prayers of His saints may be invisible to us, but that does not diminish their effectiveness. Praise the Lord that He is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent; that He loves us infinitely; and that no danger can threaten us unless He allows it for our ultimate good and His glory!
© 2019 Laurie Collett