Tag Archives: Protection

Lessons From a Trigger Finger

Last week I had minor hand surgery to repair a trigger finger. And, man, did I learn a lot! I certainly learned some things about trigger fingers, hands and tendons. But that was minor compared to the learnings God brought to my mind.

This spiritual learning started when the surgeon came and took my right hand. While holding it he verified who I was, which finger was the problem, and that he was going to help by doing the surgery. He then marked on my hand, with indelible ink, an arrow to the finger and placed his initials next to the arrow. It was his way of making sure everyone knew I was his patient and that he alone was responsible for the surgery. Then, when he was ready to begin he once again held my hand up and verified everything, for my sake and for the confidence of all the staff around us. Then he went to work on my hand, doing the surgery to release the finger. When the surgery was about done he again held up my hand and asked me to move the finger to assure us all that he had done what he had promised to do.

The most valuable learnings – perhaps more reminders than first-time learnings – had to do with how God, through Jesus, has His hands on us.

God, through Jesus, reminds us who we are – we are His!

  • But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.                (Isaiah 43:1-2)
  • “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him… he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ…” (Ephesians 1:3-5)

God, through Jesus, has taken responsibility for us.

  • “From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done.”            (Isaiah 43:13 New Living Translation)
  • “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me,for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.”                                                    (John 10:28-29 New Living Translation)

God, through Jesus, helps us.

  • “For I hold you by your right hand – I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.”                (Isaiah 41:13 New Living Translation)
  • “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;and when you pass through the rivers,they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire,you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2-3)
  • “Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin! So whenever we are in need, we should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. There we will be treated with undeserved kindness, and we will find help.”                    (Hebrews 4:15-16 Contemporary English Version)

God, through Jesus, does surgery on us.

  • “He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness…he has turned his hand against me…he has made my skin and my flesh grow old and broken my bones…he walled me in (and) weighed me down…he pierced my heart…I have hope because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is his faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:1-23)
  • Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against,so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:34-35)

Wow! From a brief minor hand surgery came these powerful major lessons from God. I am the richer for it. I certainly have a new appreciation for the old saying, “There are no minor surgeries!”  So “Thank you trigger finger. Without you, I would be the poorer.”



A Lesson from Bedsheets

Raising three boys was a joy. A joy not without its challenges but still a joy. One of those challenges was finding a reliable, good trustworthy babysitter for those all too few occasions when my wife and I wanted to relish time alone. We were blessed with and by Pam. She was that rare combination of fun and firmness. Fun enough that the boys loved her (they still do) yet firm enough to keep them in check and enforce the rules.

In that vein, when Pam put the boys in bed she was sure to play a game of tucking the top sheets firmly under the sides of the mattress to help hold the boys in place. They enjoyed the game and challenge but also heard the message: “The sheets are tucked tightly around you so you don’t try to get up and become disobedient. If you become disobedient the fun stops. The bedsheets are hemming you in for your own good.”

The memory of that tactic reminds me that God is much like a babysitter. Recall the words of the Psalmist. “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” The New Living Translation puts it: “You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.” And the Good News Translation words it: “You are all around me on every side; you protect me with your power.” God hems us in! God keeps in our place! God hems us in and keeps us in our place for our own good. He tightens the sheets around us to remind us to stay put with Him so He can protect us and bless us.

The next time…

  • you’re not happy with life
  • not happy where you are or not happy you can’t go where you want to go,
  • not happy that you cannot do what you want to do,
  • you feel like God’s not being fair because He’s not answering your prayers and giving you what you want
  • you just wish God would just leave you alone

…spend some time wondering.

“What is God protecting me from?” “How is it God wants to bless me?” You may not come up with firm answers, but you will be reminded that God has your best interests at heart.

That’s the affirmation of the Psalmist: “Your knowledge of me is too deep; it is beyond my understanding.” (Psalm 139:6 Good News Translation) Then he recognizes how valuable God’s hemming us in really is.

Is there any place I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.(Psalm 139:7-12 The Message)

Oh the beauty of God’s presence! We are never alone, always protected, always blessed by His loving hands. I realize our boys never thought of the Psalmist as they were being hemmed in. I didn’t think of Him for a long time either. But now that I have, each bedtime can take on new meaning. Each night, as I nestle under my bedsheet, I can envision God tucking in my sheets, reminding me He will protect and bless me through the night. It gives new meaning to my version of the old child’s prayer: “Now I lay me down to sleep while grateful, Lord, my soul you keep. Guide and guard me through the night and wake me when your time is right.”

Thanks, Pam, for the lessons and inspiration.










More Life in the Clouds

Last week I mused on Psalm 105:39: “God put a cloud over his people…” I considered the first of four distinct but beautiful meanings of God’s use of ‘the cloud’ in the Bible – the cloud guides us. This week I caught up in a second meaning. Consider Exodus 14:19-20. “The angel of God that had been leading the camp of Israel now shifted and got behind them. And the Pillar of Cloud that had been in front also shifted to the rear. The Cloud was now between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel. The Cloud enshrouded one camp in darkness and flooded the other with light. The two camps didn’t come near each other all night.” (The Message)

God had been guiding the Israelites through the wilderness. But at this moment they didn’t need a guide – they needed a guard. The Red Sea was in front of them so they could not move forward. And the Egyptian army was in hot pursuit and gaining ground behind them. So God moved the cloud from their front to their back. God now truly had their back! And even more amazingly the cloud enshrouded the Egyptians in darkness so they could not see the Israelites but flooded the Israelites with light. To live in God’s cloud is to have the assurance of divine protection.

Billy Graham, in his book Angels, shared of the night hostile natives surrounded John G. Paton’s mission headquarters, intent on burning the Patons out and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed all during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see that, unaccountably, the attackers had left. A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Jesus Christ, and Mr. Paton, remembering what had happened, asked the chief what had kept him and his men from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men you had with you there?” The missionary answered, “There were no men there; just my wife and I.” The chief argued that they had seen many men standing guard – hundreds of men in shining garments with drawn swords in their hands. They seemed to circle the mission station so that the natives were afraid to attack. Only then did Mr. Paton realize that God had sent his angels to protect them. The chief agreed that there was no other explanation. To live in God’s cloud is to have the assurance of divine protection.

Now I admit an experience like that of the Patons seems pretty remote from my life. While I have had some experiences where I’ve said “Thank you, Lord, for protecting me,’ I’ve never had the verification they had. But that does not invalidate my experiences. In fact, it makes me wonder how many times I, like the Patons, have been totally oblivious to being guarded by God’s cloud. And I wonder – do I really need to have verification to believe? Am I not to live by faith and not by sight? As I read the Biblical accounts of God’s ‘guardian angels’ at work, I recognize that most of that work is done behind the scenes. God just wants us to trust Him. He has promised to guard us – is that not enough?

The Psalmist put it poignantly: “He will not let you fall; your protector is always awake.
The protector of Israel never dozes or sleeps. The Lord will guard you; he is by your side to protect you. The sun will not hurt you during the day, nor the moon during the night. The Lord will protect you from all danger; he will keep you safe. He will protect you as you come and go now and forever.” (Ps. 121:3-8 Good News Translation) To live in God’s cloud is to have the assurance of divine protection.

I wonder – how often have you been oblivious to God’s guarding cloud? Do you need verification? Or are you willing to walk by faith? As you come and go today, are you willing to trust He will protect and keep you? Perhaps the assuring words of Jesus can cement the deal for us both. “My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them real and eternal life. They are protected from the Destroyer for good. No one can steal them from out of my hand. The Father who put them under my care is so much greater than the Destroyer and Thief. No one could ever get them away from him. I and the Father are one heart and mind.” (John 10:27-30 The Message) Is that not enough?

Two hands are holding a glowing cross