Thursday, September 28, 2017
Psalms 91:14 – 16 (NIV) 14“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Psalms 23:4 (NIV) 4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
When I was around 12 years old, I was on vacation with my family in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We were traveling around that beautiful part of our country seeing the sights, like Tahquahmenon Falls, the Porcupine Mountains, Lake of the Clouds, and so many more. We had traveled up into copper mining territory on the Keewanah Peninsula and dad decided it would be fun to tour a copper mine. He went to the ticket booth and came back to the car with five tickets. My math brain quickly figured something was up because there were six of us. Dad said he was staying behind to watch the car while the rest of us all went on the tour. At first I thought he was making a sacrifice. Only after some questioning did I discover his claustrophobia. No way was he going down underground in a small cave in the dark. I was still too young to realize that I had it also. That was about to change.
The tunnel down into the mine was wide and well lit. So far this was fun. I was fascinated by the rock formations and the information the tour guide was giving us. As we got deeper and deeper into the mine, the tunnel narrowed. I looked back and the lights that has been on as we came down the passage way were now off. I could not see the entrance to the mine. I looked ahead and the people on the tour were now all in single file, and the walls of the tunnel were closing in. Then, just as I was getting scared, the tunnel opened into a large opening where mining had taken place.
For a short time, we stood there in peace as the guide told us about the process of mining copper. Then he told us to grab the hand of the person next to us. He didn’t say why, so I didn’t do it. I was standing next to my two brothers, and I wasn’t about to hold their hands. At that instant, the lights went off. The guide told us he wanted us to experience total darkness.
I couldn’t see a thing. I touched my nose to see if I could see even a shadow of my hand, but there was nothing. I couldn’t run because I had no idea where the exit was. I was scared! I remember yelling, “Mom!” She was just on the other side of my brother and I probably shoved him as I reached out to try to grab her. More than anything else I needed to know that a person I could trust was with me. I grabbed her hand just as the lights went on, and I think I held on to it even as my brothers laughed at me. I didn’t care – I needed to feel safe.
As I shared yesterday, I am spending time in the 91st Psalm this week because it was my mom’s favorite. It was almost 12 years ago that my mom was in bed unable to get up because of the ravaging effects of cancer. But I watched as she reached out to hold on to the hand of the One who can be trusted.
I spent several days with her during her last week of life on earth, and I observed something wonderful: she didn’t reach out for dad’s hand, or for mine. She didn’t call out for the doctor or the nurses. She didn’t show any signs of dependence upon people or the need to have her suffering relieved by people. She never complained when we had to turn her and change her sheets. She simply whispered the name Jesus. In the darkest time of her life she had already reached out her hand to the one she knew she could trust.
Her love for Jesus was rewarded with the His personal presence. So complete was her trust in Him that she didn’t cry when friends came to visit and she had to say goodbye to them for probably the last time. She didn’t even cry when I said goodbye to her on the day I left, never to see her alive again. She simply smiled and hugged me, knowing that we would be together again in the presence of our Savior.
In Psalm 91:14, the Lord says that He will protect us. The Hebrew word for protect literally means to set on high so as to be inaccessible. Mom understood that and lived that truth as she laid on her bed. The Lord has set her on high. Disease, destruction, and death have no access to her. They may have access to her physical body, but her physical body does not define her existence. Her soul and her spirit define her, and they are already experiencing the presence of God.
That is how we are to live our lives every day. We must stop defining our existence by our physical experiences. Instead, we must walk in the Spirit of God. The flesh is not our identity. We have been shown the salvation of God, and no matter what trouble comes to the flesh, His presence is always with us. When we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, then fear is destroyed. The Apostle John said, “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…”
When trouble comes, your true love is revealed. When in financial distress do you call your banker or Jesus? When your marriage is falling apart do you call a counselor or Jesus? When stress overwhelms you do you call your friends or Jesus? When sickness invades your life do you call your doctor or Jesus?
It’s ok to call any or all of these people when in need, but not first. Your first call is to Jesus, so that you are assured that your spirit and soul are at peace in His presence. Then, no matter what the outcome of the physical circumstance, you will know you are inaccessible because God has placed you on high.
If you truly love the Lord, then this will be true – you will call on Him, and He will answer you and be with you in the trouble. He will hold your hand in the dark, and you will be safe.
O the glory of His presence!