Saturday, September 04, 2010
VANGUARD OF GOD'S LOVE
Our pastor once preached a sermon that talked about the vanguard of God’s protection. He used the metaphor of the mountains surrounding the wide, fertile valley we live in to show the enormity of the Lord’s love. Normally when I look at these low, gently rounded coastal mountains encircling my home, that’s what I think of—God’s protection, a shield of love.
Last week my husband and I took our son back to college on the prairies. To get there, we drove through a series of mountain ranges, including the Rockies. Driving through narrow canyons with mountains growing to staggering heights, gave me a different perspective. Sometimes mountains are so stupendous, they’re scary.
Down in a skinny ravine, where only at certain times of the day the sun reaches the canyon floor, it can get dark. The road before our car winds like a serpent. We can’t see what’s ahead. In fact we can’t see much but the dense, dark, fir and cedar trees whipping past.
So much like life—scary at times, troubling. We’re not able to see clearly, or understand what’s really happening in our life. We desperately want to know that God has taken care of what’s down the road so we won’t be hurt, or that He will dig us out of our present avalanche of pain. But our hearts grow faint the deeper we go through this dark, winding place that has no easy answers.
Is God really here with us? Will He bring us out to a place where we can experience clarity and peace and joy?
If you’ve ever driven through the Rockies going east, you know how quickly the surroundings change. As soon as we reach the grandest heights, the Continental Divide is right there. Rivers change their course. And not much farther we seemingly go through an open doorway. Low, docile foothills greet us, and flat prairie stretches for thousands of miles.
No longer do the mountains restrict our view. All of a sudden the sky becomes alive, taking center stage. Now we can see storms 20, 30, 40 miles away. Rain falls like a diaphanous drape on towns, then stops, and then falls on another. We can see lightning strike from a safe distance. And if the storm is coming our way we at least can be prepared for it. Perhaps even move out of its way. But it's more than that. The vast, huge sky—so much bigger than the greatest peak or crag—envelopes us.
Depending on how the sun filters through the massive clouds, the sky broods or smiles, or scintillates with a joy beyond human understanding. And if no clouds dot the living canopy that stretches forever, a crystalline blue takes our breath away. Yet...even here we can still see the vale of tears. Not until Heaven will we cease to feel the weight of sadness and disappointment.
But after coming out of the mountains, the mammoth, open atmosphere becomes our vanguard. Our God is so much bigger than anything He created. The One who made the sky will protect, bring peace and joy...with the breath of His spirit.
We must remember this when we're in the dark, winding place, that His great truth will be visible soon. Hold on. Trust.
Psalm 5:12 "For you bless the godly, O Lord; you surround them with your shield of love."