Friday, July 8, 2011

It is the LORD who keeps me

JOB 10:12

"Lord, please provide some shade in this desert."

I found myself praying this just a few days ago. The past 3.5 years I have had - what at least seems to me - incessant physical problems. Nothing life-threatening, so I don't want to seem dramatic. But migraine after migraine, then back pain, and just recently a nasty cold that coincided with an allergy flare-up that left me feeling a fiery ache all over. It felt as though my own body was fighting against me... Exhausted. I am physically exhausted.

And this is all subjective, really, because I know that others go through much worse. It just seems relentless. And at these times - times like the fiery ache or migraine, I turn to the Lord and ask for relief. I more recently find myself fighting for joy. And by His grace, I am driven to God's Word. Thankfully He does give that relief, and rather quickly now that I think about it (although at the time, it doesn't seem soon enough! - ahem, sound familiar?).

I often think of the Israelite's during their time in the desert. What did it look like for a single woman in that wilderness? At any rate, every person was going through a hardship. They groaned and complained, and God sweetly provided for them. Maybe not just as they wanted Him to, but He always did. His love for them was so big, they couldn't comprehend it.

Amazingly, His care was such that their clothing never wore out and their feet didn't swell. Throughout their time in the wilderness, they had everything that they could ever need. (Nehamiah 9:21, which coincidentally one of the men on my church's pastoral staff posted this verse on Facebook shortly after I thought about it :) he said that this is a reminder that God does not treat us as we deserve, that during their rebellion, God still cared and provided for them - AMEN!).

It's funny that the only scripture I could think of with shade in it was from Jonah. And I definitely felt as though I was being just as petulant as he. But I wanted to see if there was any comforting scripture that mentions "shade," so I decided to do a word search on my trusty ESV iPhone app and found this:

Psalm 121
My Help Comes from the LORD
A Song of Ascents.
1I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

3He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
6The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

What a sweet balm to my soul this was! It is the LORD who keeps me. He is a God who doesn't need sleep! His care for me is constant, 24/7, never failing. I will say that as I was sick this past week, I was thankful that God doesn't get sick. I felt so useless, and was grateful that He is never useless! And strange enough, I knew that even in times like that, He is still doing His good work in me.

This God: He keeps my very life. With Him, I will meet no harm. Even when it feels as if I will, even when physically I feel any degree of pain. The Creator of all the universe, who sent His son to die for my sins, so that I can be forgiven, that same God keeps me. He alone is my refuge. He has provided that shade in the person of His son, Jesus Christ. Why is it so easy to lose sight of this? (Grumble, grumble, grumble - says this sinner in this desert).

After reading this Psalm, I was reminded of Revelation 7:

13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?" 14I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15"Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.

17For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

(emphasis mine)

This is where God is leading me. And while He is leading me, He is changing me - readying me for that Day when I will see Him face to face, and these earthly trials will be no more. He is keeping me for this endless Day, eternity. Such great mercy! Of which, He has endless supply.

And it's certainly not just for me. Beloved Christian, it is for you, too! It is part of His redemptive plan for the church, Christ's bride. He is displaying His glory through the church to the heavenly realms (Ephesians 3). Surreal mystery.

Speaking of mercy, I was listening to this song on my morning commute:

The lyrics say "such favor undeserved." So good, definitely take a listen!

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