Last week turned into a hectic week for me. I was scheduled to attend denominational meetings in Chicago. My flight to Chicago was delayed because President Obama was flying into Chicago at the same time. Then on my return trip, my flight was delayed because of snow, which caused me to miss my connecting flight, and stranded me overnight in Minneapolis. All in all, it was quite a week.
Last night I was down in my shop working on a toy dump truck for my great nephew. I was ripping a ¾ inch thick piece of maple into ¼ inch thick pieces, when I momentarily let go of the wood. Almost instantly, the table saw hurled the partially cut wood back and into the wall behind me. It hit with such force that it put a hole in the wall. Fortunately, I had stepped to the side, or it would have hit me square in the chest. God’s hand was definitely on me.
As I reflect upon that incident, I am reminded of how God watches over me. Most of the time, I am oblivious to His providential care. Sometimes, it is very obvious. I marvel at how many times I could have been in a car accident, but have not been. I am amazed at the number of times in my life when I narrowly escaped serious injury. Like the time, when I was a boy, I ran into an oncoming car with my bike, and landed with my head inches from the back tire. I was scared, but unhurt. Just last week, as our plane approached Minneapolis, the pilot came on the speaker and informed us that we had to circle for a while, because the ground crew was afraid we might not be able to stop on the slick runway. I confess that my heart was beating very fast as our wheels touched down and the snow blew up from the runway.
The Bible never promises to shield us from all mishaps and dangers. But, the Bible does assure us that God is watching over us. For every incident that we encounter, there are countless other ones that God spared us from. I think back over my life, and realize that it is a minor miracle that I have survived this long, with most of my bodily parts intact.
Psalm 91 expresses the confidence we can have in God’s care for us.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you make the Most High your dwelling-- even the Lord, who is my refuge-- then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. "Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."
In beautiful poetic form, the Psalmist expressed his ultimate confidence in the loving care of God. Although we know that we will face our share of hardships, we can face them with confidence because God is watching over us.
Lottie Moon, the pioneer, Southern Baptist missionary to China, faced many hardships. She was caught up in the violence and turmoil of the Boxer Rebellion in China, that claimed the lives of many foreigners and Chinese Christians. In the midst of the conflict, she wrote in our journey, I am invincible when I am standing in the will of God. She firmly believed what the Psalmist wrote.
In John 10:1-18, Jesus refers to himself as the good shepherd. As the good shepherd, he knows each of us by name. He watches over us. He leads us to safe places. He provides for us what we need. And when we wander off, he comes looking for us. What an amazing gift!
I am so thankful that we have a God who cares about the details of our lives, and not just the big picture. I never want to take God’s loving grace for granted. I will be much more careful the next time I step into my workshop. But, I know that Christ is there with me. I’m convinced that he even pulls me aside, at the right time, to avoid flying objects.