“The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore” (Psalm 121:8).
My son, Lawrence, is leaving for Navy boot camp next month. As the date of departure draws closer, I’ve been feeling the need and urgency to step up my prayers for God’s protection and his future in the military.
New experiences bring excitement and hope. But they can also bring a certain amount of apprehension. When our children are small God expects parents to care and protect them. He gives us roughly eighteen or nineteen years to be directly involved in their lives and this includes protecting them from what might be harmful or threatening. When they leave home, a shift takes place. As parents, we can no longer follow them around to shield them. Now, we prayerfully place them in God’s hands and ask Him to protect them because He can be everywhere they are.
Psalm 121 is my assurance that I can depend upon God for His help and protection for my childen. The ancient Israelites knew this, too. When they traveled by foot to Jerusalem to celebrate the annual festivals they had to often pass through dark mountains and hostile lands. But their confidence was in God. “I lift up my eyes to the hills–from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2). The Israelites, also known as pilgrims, knew God as their Keeper. He was the Keeper of their lives. The word, keeper also means to protect, or preserve. The hills may have provoked feelings of insecurity at what might have been lurking there, but they also represent a timeless character trait of God–as mighty and stable. If God created heaven and earth, including the mountains, He was certainly qualified to be the Source of the pilgrim’s help.1
God is not only all-powerful, His loving nature watches over us. God’s care and protection is as close as our right hand. “The Lord is your shade [shelter] at your right hand” (v.5). We will never find ourselves beyond His untiring watch over our lives.
Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. Psalm 91:14-15
God’s pledge of Protection will carry us through all the fears we have about our futures and that of our loved ones. There is nothing that takes God’s attention away from caring for us. He is not a lesser god who sleeps. And if we need a visual for how He does this, we have Jesus. When I am tempted to fear over concerns of safety for my son, I recall the story of Jesus blessing the little children in Matthew 19. Because He loved them, I can trust His love to guard and protect my children. If you’re like me, getting ready to send off a child to the military, college, or even to seminary school, “the Lord is [their] shade at [their] right hand” (v. 5).
1 Lisa Nixon Phillips. Faith Steps for Military Families (New York, NY: Morgan James Publishing, 2014), 18.
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