He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Psalm 121:3
While my husband was on active duty we enjoyed the “Dependent’s Day Cruises” as a Navy family. Dependent’s Day Cruises allow family and friends of crewmembers to come aboard ship to get a feel for life on a war vessel. In the early morning hours, hundreds of family members and friends descend upon the ship.
Once on board, the lines are dropped and the ship leaves the pier. While underway, the ship provides all the meals, music, and a spectacular up close air show of jets doing “touch and goes” on the flight deck. It’s a day that sailors and their families forget about the rigorous ship schedules, training missions and deployments and enjoy this one of a kind experience. Pride in our sailor, pride in our Navy and pride in our country is refreshed in our hearts as we reflect that we are a part of something unique and important.
On this particular Dependent’s Day Cruise, my husband, Ray was stationed on the aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. He led us down steep ladders from one deck to another as he gave us the guided tour. My mother-in-law, Marilyn, who was visiting at the time, became claustrophobic as the spaces seemed to get smaller and smaller the further we descended. Finally, she turned around and returned to the security of the surface. The rest of us found ourselves in a small square room called the pump room, far below the waterline. There, all alone was one sailor on his watch. However, he had fallen victim to the dead silence and was sound asleep. Our loud voices upon entering had suddenly awoken him, a fact that he was probably later thankful for.
Falling asleep on a duty watch is a serious matter in the military, often resulting in stiff penalties. In Psalm 121:4, God is described as the Keeper of Israel. “He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (NRSV). With God, falling asleep or dozing off, will never happen. He alone stands the “duty watch” 24/7. He is never found asleep. He is never caught off guard and nothing escapes His attention. Because of this, His desire is for us to depend on God for help. Did you know that we are the apple of His eye? “Guard me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 17:8). God is the Keeper of our lives. He may not always
However, as a military family it’s important to give your anxieties over the safety of your loved one to the Lord. If anxieties are allowed to fester, doubt crowds out trust and your relationship with God is hindered. Like military training, spiritual training should be included in the military family’s readiness regimen. This type of training involves two things: living close, or abiding, in the Lord, and having a consistent prayer routine. With God as the fortress of our hearts, our faith is girded up and made more resilient.
Just start by reading God’s Word. James 4:8 says: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (NRSV). Consistently renewing your mind with God’s Word empowers you to resist the temptation to allow fears of what could happen to cause you to doubt God’s protective care. By doing so, we gain a daily benefit. He gives us His peace. “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV). Neglecting God’s Word allows your mind to become vulnerable to attacks from Satan. And what does Satan do best? He steals (John 10:10). He will steal your peace if your mind and heart is not guarded by the power of God’s Word.
Prayer is the second requirement for spiritual readiness training. Think of prayer as a shield. When we cover our service member by the shield of prayer, we are engaging God’s defense system of protection. When we pray for God to be the Keeper of our loved ones serving, His power penetrates that which we are praying over. Prayer is the channel that allows God’s grace and protection to invade the lives of our men and women in uniform.
Psalm 121 closes with this reminder: God’s protection is without end-whether you wake up on unfriendly soil or on a ship in a hot zone in international waters, while on foot patrol in the light of day or in the darkness of the night, upon returning from a mission or home to the arms of waiting family. Throughout all circumstances, God’s watchful care is limitless. If harm does touch our lives, we can draw upon the peace our Lord offers because we have prayed for His presence to be in the midst of it. Psalm 91:15 is His promise. “When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble…” Our assurance comes from knowing that nothing happens to those whose hearts belong to God that first hasn’t passed through the sovereign hands of our Keeper.
Prayer for Protection
Lord, thank You for every member of our armed forces. Each one serves from the heart with a strong sense of duty for his or her country. Each one has voluntarily given up certain freedoms in order to answer to a higher calling.
Lord, may their sacrifices be appreciated by the citizens of this country. Bring a revival in the hearts of the American people to pray for our military so that under God we remain the strongest military force. May each military operation be just and carried out with a clear and honorable vision. Arm them with courage, shield each one from evil intentions, injustice, deceptive tactics, and reveal every unknown threat that would undermine their safety and the mission. Protect their feet from slipping (Psalm 121:3), no matter where they are, no matter the circumstances.
In the light of day or the darkness of night, shield them with Your protection. When exhausted, be their Source of strength. May the mercy You provide be experienced by my loved one and all our troops. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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