Today was a terrible Monday–especially in St. Petersburg Florida. My step-daughter has spent her day in school in lockdown because a fugitive was hiding from a US Marshal and 2 St. Pete Police officers very near to her school. The deputy and officers were trying to serve a warrant and put this bad guy back in jail. The fugitive–or The Crazy, like I prefer to call him –was “protecting himself”.
The two St. Pete Police officers died of gunshot wounds and the US Marshal was held hostage and had to be extracted by the SWAT. The US Marshal is in stable condition. The Crazy was just found dead in his house. You can read the full story here .
Knowing my precious step-daughter, she’s probably loving the drama of it all. She wants to be a police officer, so I wouldn’t put it past her to try to negotiate her way out of school to assist in the chaos. I’m certain she is safe, that she is protected.
I think of Methusalah the Tree and how nature activists have desired to keep this symbol of wisdom safe and protected. In fact, my husband and I talked after my last post about how we need to take care of each other. So many of your “friends” at church or on Facebook or at work or at school are in need of your protection.
In the mornings, when Zac and Cody leave for school, I tell them to watch out for each other, to take care of each other. Even though every other Disney and Nick Show on TV portrays siblings simply hating each other, and even living their lives to sabotage one another, within our family we try to teach our kids the need to protect each other.
The Christian community is an extension of family, and when we walk out our doors into the world, we are required to “watch out” for each other. Like the activists for Methusalah who says: No Photos Please, we must protect this tree, we also must see the frailty, the possibilities for danger and the need of our fellow brother and sister in Christ.
This principle is something that is terribly lacking in our community. We go to church, get us some Jesus, complain or compliment the worship, grab our kids from ministry and out the door to lunch we go. We might exchange a few pleasantries with a fellow worshipper at the local cafe, but are we really “watching out” for each other? Do we know each other that well? Do we CARE about each other that much?
Which brings me full circle to the story about The Crazy in St. Pete, who shot up a bunch of cops who were trying to protect the community. He hid in an attic to protect himself. They locked down the school to protect my step daughter. And all I can think is….
Praise God HE is the protector.
Over and over, particularly in the Psalms, we hear pleading and crying for protection from the enemy. The Psalmist knows God as the Protector. Do you?
Do you trust Him to Protect you during your airplane flight? I’m sure you do! But do you trust Him to protect your child in public school? Do you trust Him to protect your heart in that relationship with a new friend? Do you trust him to protect you from the bleak economic future? Do you know God as the Protector?
To know God as one who guards you from the enemy, you must take refuge in Him and Him alone. A refuge is a place, or in this case a person, who you can take shelter in. I want to know when my boys leave together, that Zac can depend on Cody to shelter him in times of difficulty. I take refuge in the police officers who work the streets at night. I desire to hide under the shelter of my husband when I’m struggling with something emotional in my life. And I take refuge in Jesus:
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Psalm 5:11
I can hide in Jesus, and the troubles that this world will deal me (and the world has plenty of troubles to go around), I can know that God will protect me:
You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7
In these two verses, I love how not only does God protect us, but he fills us with joy and sings over us. He is our protector, and it is clearly done out of His love for us. And another expression of his love is his mercy. Mercy is NOT getting what you DO deserve. I do deserve most of the problems I encounter because I’m human, I make mistakes and my heart is prone to sinfulness. But in His love, he protects me by His mercy:
Do not withhold your mercy from me, LORD;
may your love and faithfulness always protect me. Psalm 40:11
His faithfulness and love is all we need for protection. But in our sinfulness we seek protection in an attic–like The Crazy in St. Pete this morning. At some point, we must all learn to depend on others in our life to watch out for us, like Methusalah and the naturist, and Zac and Cody. And at some point, we must all take shelter in the love and mercy of a BIG HUGE God who desires to not only protect us, but to sing over us in His love. God loves you more than any person could love a tree.
What are the ways you seek protection in things other than Jesus? Do you want to know God as your Protector? Do you “watch out” for your friends and brothers and sisters in Christ? Are they looking out for you?