Sept. 5, 2009
“Then Boaz said to Ruth…‘Watch which field they reap, and follow them. Have I not charged the young men not to molest you?’”
Ruth 2: 8, 9
A Time of Protection
“Lord, hour by hour,
Be Thou my Guide,
That, by Thy power,
No step may slide.”
Do I daily ask my Father to cover me with His protective wings of love?
“Father, I am seeking: I am hesitant and uncertain, but will You, O God, watch over each step of mine and guide me.”
“As the rain hides the stars, as the autumn mist hides the hills, as the clouds veil the blue of the sky, so the dark happenings of my lot hide the shining of Thy face from me. Yet, if I may hold Thy hand in the darkness, it is enough. Since I know that, though I may stumble in my going, Thou dost not fall.”
When, as a young adult, my dad, who was orphaned as a baby, began to find out more about his family roots, he learned that some of his family’s ancestors came from England and Ireland. Maybe this is why one of my greatest desires regarding travel has been to possibly some day visit these countries that I find, in picture, so overwhelmingly beautiful.
Unlike some who find the mist on the hills a rather scary visual, I love it when, in one of the many British movies I’ve collected through the years, the camera takes a viewer like myself through the shadowy fog that blankets the lush green hills above the stark, rocky cliffs around these “Isles.”
Here in the United States, on the coast of California, there is a place called Half Moon Bay where a gorgeous hotel is perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. One year, Jim and I went there to celebrate my birthday, for as Jim later told me, a friend had shared with him that this was a geographical region that reminded him of his own home in Scotland.
Clouds which lie on the beautiful land and ocean have always reminded me of the protective covering our Father promises to blanket each one of us with.
In Deuteronomy 32: 10, which is one of my favorite texts, there is the promise I love to claim that lets me know I have a Father, whose protection, like a canopy, covers me every day: “God found (her) out in the wilderness, in an empty, windswept wasteland. He threw His arms around (her), lavished attention on (her), guarding (her) as the apple of His eye. He was like an eagle hovering over its nest, overshadowing its young, then spreading its wings, lifting them into the air, teaching them to fly. God alone led (her)” (Deuteronomy 32: 10-12, The Message Bible).
I want to stop a moment and ask you to imagine what it was like as Naomi and Ruth traversed the desert land between Moab and Bethlehem. This is a place where still today the wind blows the sand across barren land. Think what it was like for these women traveling by foot or on donkey, making their way through the harsh land back to the House of Bread. In your mind’s eye, can you see that covering, the canopy of God’s sanctuary, over them as His protective shelter kept His two daughters within His love and care.
But God’s protection wasn’t just meant for a journey across the desert. God’s protection was also visible during “Harvest-Time” in Bethlehem when Boaz came to Ruth and informed her that no one would be “molesting” her as the Amplified Bible translates this text. In the King James Version of the Bible, Boaz, told Ruth that he had instructed the young men, “They shall not touch thee (Ruth)” (Ruth 2: 9, K.J.V.). The Hebrew translation gives us a more vivid picture by shedding light on the word “touch,” which means t0 “lay a hand upon for any purpose. To strike. To plague or bother. To come nigh.”
I want to take this last phrase, “to come nigh,” and go to the words of David in Psalms 91: 7 (K.J.V.), “A thousand shall fall at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.” A promise of protection from our Father.
Now you may be wondering, what about all the innocent people who have terrible things happen to them every day?
We must never forget that God’s presence and protection are promised not to keep us from the fires of life, but to be with us in the fires of life. Daniel 3: 23-25(K.J.V.) is one of my favorite stories in the entire Bible for the encouragement it brings to all our hearts when we are thrown in the fire and when someone has dared to come nigh and touch one of God’s children. “And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors, ‘Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?’ They answered and said unto the king, ‘True, O king.’ He answered and said, ‘Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have NO hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God’”
Just like these three Hebrew young men, Ruth and Naomi came “bound” to Bethlehem by the chains of poverty and death. They were, like the three Hebrews knocked down – they’d fallen off their feet and found themselves in the midst of fiery trial. However, it was at the moment of greatest peril when the Most High walked within the furnace with them.
When I was young, as I’ve shared with you in the past, my grandma would give my sister and me an “allowance” based on memorizing passages of Scripture. One of the first chapters in the Bible Grandma shared with me was Psalm 91, which contained some of her favorite verses in the entire Bible.
Psalm 91 begins with this fabulous promise and I’m changing the gender for God’s daughter’s (and I hope all the men who come to the garden won’t mind.) “She that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God; in Him will I trust…He shall cover thee with His feathers and under His wings shalt thou trust.” (Psalm 91: 1-4, K.J.V.).
It’s “Harvest-Time” in Bethlehem. You and I, along with Naomi and Ruth have come home to a Father who compassionately opens His arms and welcomes us as part of His family -- His daughters and sons. And then He protects us under His wings and promises that nothing will come nigh us that will not be for our eternal good and His eternal glory.
“O God, our Help in ages past,
Our Hope for years to come,
Our Shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal Home!
Beneath the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.”
“Thou angel of God who has charge of me
From the dear Father of mercifulness,
The shepherding kind of the fold of the saints
To make round about me this night;
Drive from me every temptation and danger,
Surround me on the sea of unrighteousness,
And in the narrows, crooks, and straits,
Keep thou my coracle, keep it always.
Be thou a bright flame before me;
Be thou a guiding star above me,
Be thou a smooth path below me,
And be a kindly shepherd behind me,
Today, tonight, and forever.”
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