Monday, October 19, 2015
That's how it began.
With the innocent, quiet sound of tiny raindrops gently tapping at our tent.
Let me tell you the story.
Last week, desperately needing some time away, "The Hub" and I decided to spend five days and nights camping in Joshua Tree National Park.
Might I just say that our version of camping involves an air mattress, sleeping bags, and a tent.
Yes, I'm rather proud of myself, proud of the fact that at 61 years of age, I'm still willing (and able) to *rough it.* I think that deserves a round of applause…
(Go ahead. I'll wait…)
On Monday and Tuesday, we decided to go exploring.
There are some interesting places to see.
Joshua Tree was an area where quite a bit of mining took place in the late 1800's, early 1900's. One day we trekked to a site where two wooden structures are still standing, and mining equipment lays abandoned.
A very steep hill.
The next day we ventured forth to explore the ruins of an old ranch site, a stamp mill for processing ore, and a dam built to harness rainwater. (The water level was waaaay down – the drought continues in our water-starved state).
Through a desert.
A very hot desert.
Yes, both days the temperatures soared into the 90's.
As I trudged along – soaked in sweat, tired, thirsty, hungry, achy, and a bit dizzy – I pondered the story of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness. How vulnerable He must have been when Satan appeared to Him.
Let me tell you, after two days I was done.
But that is a post for perhaps another day.
Today I'm talking about water.
OK, so Wednesday we decided to just hang out at our campsite. I did word puzzles and read a great mystery book. "The Hub" read books about Joshua Tree, and cut up firewood.
That night, after some restful hours around the campfire, we retired to our tent to sleep the night away.
That didn't quite happen.
Sometime in the middle of the night, I awoke. And somehow in that twilight state of *not-quite-asleep-but-not-quite-awake,* I became aware of a tapping noise. As I gradually reentered consciousness, I realized what I was hearing.
I woke up "The Hub" so he could help me close all the vents in the tent.
While we were doing that, we kept seeing flashes of light and hearing distant rumbling. Being the adventuresome twosome that we are, we decided to go outside.
Boy oh boy! Am I glad we did!
We stood under the protection of the popup tent that we use for shade…(and in this case, rain!). And for over an hour, "The Hub" and I watched the most spectacular thunder and lightning storm we have ever seen!
Giant forked lightning flashed every 4-5 seconds, all around us, lighting up the surrounding landscape like a strobe light, and lingering in our vision like rays from the sun. This was followed by booming thunder, mostly far away, but some so close that the loud crack made me jump.
Fortunately, I am not afraid of thunderstorms.
I think it has a lot to do with the fact that my mother told me as a young child that it just meant that God was rearranging His furniture, and testing to make sure His lights worked!
What a display!
It was awesome, in every sense of that word – astonishing, beautiful, breathtaking, impressive, magnificent, stunning, wondrous.
You know, lately I've been pining (whining?) over the fact that I can't see God – not in real, actual, physical ways.
This night, I think He appeared in all His power, glory, and majesty – and said out loud to me:
HERE. I. AM.
Yup, it was really something to behold.
Around 3:30 AM, we decided to go back to bed.
And that's when the *fun* began.
Once we were all settled again (or so we thought), a strange thing happened.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
"The Hub" asked me, "Did you feel something?"
"No," I replied.
But then I did.
And, upon turning on the lantern, we discovered the problem.
Our "waterproof" tent was not…
You see, many tents come with a rainfly – (In basic terms, a fly is a tent without walls, and generally used for keeping out moisture – such as condensation or rain – while people rest or sleep).
Our tent did not come with a rainfly because it was advertised to be waterproof.
Like lo-fat ice cream is advertised to be diet-conscious.
Fortunately, "The Hub" is always prepared!
And this trip he had thoughtfully brought a (truly) waterproof tarp that he quickly jury-rigged over our sieve-tent abode.
It took me a long time to fall back to sleep. And as I lay there, I got to thinking about the whole idea of being waterproof.
And that made me think about Noah.
God instructed Noah to build an ark.
And contrary to popular opinion, he did just that.
In fact, Noah did everything that the Lord commanded him to do. And yet, there was one thing that God did not ask Noah to do.
He didn't ask him to close the door of the ark.
Have you ever noticed that one small, but oh-so-crucial detail in the story of the flood?
God had led Noah step-by-step in all his preparations. And now, just before the tempest began, He didn't finish by saying, "OK, Noah, now it's time to lock the door."
No, this task He reserved for Himself:
"And the LORD shut him in." (Genesis 7:16, ESV)
Obviously, God had Noah and his family firmly in His grasp.
And it was He, the great I AM, who was going to ensure their security.
Their safety in the flood was not going to depend on themselves.
Rather, their protection was going to be dependent upon The One of whom it is said, "…and what he shuts no one can open." (Revelation 3:7, NIV)
Noah and his family, and all that God had deemed to enter the ark, could rest in peace. Through the long days and weeks and months of waiting, they were all perfectly safe – right in the center of God's will and provident protection.
God completed Noah's work by hemming him in, covering him round about with divine guardianship.
Is that not a sweet image?!
Now yes, God protected Noah from the rage of wicked men. But He also preserved him from the violence of the mighty floodwaters.
God indeed made Noah waterproof.
Can we not apply this familiar story to our own lives?
Can we not find comfort in the sure knowledge that we are also hemmed in by a loving and protective God?
I all too often lose sight of that concept.
Last week I talked about the incident when Moses and the Israelites found themselves trapped between the onrushing armies of Pharaoh and the impassable waters of the Red Sea.
And while I was reading that familiar story, I noticed something I hadn't really thought about before – these words (which I've underlined in context):
"Then the angel of God, who had been leading the people of Israel, moved to the rear of the camp. The pillar of cloud also moved from the front and stood behind them. The cloud settled between the Egyptian and Israelite camps." (Exodus 14:19-20, NLT)
When danger was present, what did God do?
He moved between the people He loved and the forces of danger.
He stood behind them, and watched the enemy camp Himself, keeping it at bay –
".…the Egyptians and Israelites did not approach each other all night." (vs. 20)
Do you see what God did here?
He did just exactly what He did for Noah!
He stood between His beloved children and the onrushing rage of enemies – (wicked people, wicked forces in the unseen world).
And, He also protected His people from raging waters.
(Notice that God made Moses and His people *waterproof* as they walked through the Red Sea!)
Dear friends, this is also what God does for us!
He literally *has our backs* when it comes to everything that menaces us.
He stands against the forces that threaten to overpower us. He stands against persecution and the enemy attacks that threaten to overtake us. He stands against the raging waters of life that threaten to overwhelm us.
He hems us in with His loving Presence, guarding us against all that would come up against us.
He protects us.
We are not asked to rely on ourselves – we do not need to "shut the door" – for we are held by the only One on whom we can truly depend, the only unfailing and unchanging Person we know – God Himself.
HE shuts us in.
HE stands behind and between.
HE makes us *waterproof* against the floods of life, in whatever form they come.
"And the LORD shut him in."
Yes, it is He, the great I AM, who ensures our safety and security.
He has provided the door for us to enter into His salvation, and He has closed it firmly behind us.
"'I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved…'"
(John 10:9, NKJV)
(Matthew Henry's commentary: "…and so when he brings a soul to Christ, the salvation is sure: it is not in our own keeping, but in the Mediator's hand.")
You know, that night in the tent I learned a lot.
And I was once again reassured that even in the midst of intense and furious and violent storms, that no matter how strongly they assail me, I am safe and secure in the everlasting arms of the Lord.
The One who shuts me in forever.
The One who makes me *Living Water-proof.*
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.
From the hymn, "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms," (Showalter and Hoffman, 1887)
"And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock." (Matthew 7:25, NASB)
"When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever." (Proverbs 10:25, NIV)
"…blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit."
(Jeremiah 17:7-8, NLT)
"The eternal God is your shelter, and his everlasting arms support you. He will force your enemies out of your way…" (Deuternomy 33:27, GOD'S WORD)
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].
I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust [with great confidence, and on whom I rely]!'
For He will save you…
He will cover you and completely protect you with His pinions,
And under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and a wall.
You will not be afraid of the terror of night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction (sudden death) that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But danger will not come near you.
Because you have made the Lord, [who is your] refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
No evil will befall you…
For He will command His angels in regard to you,
To protect and defend and guard you in all your ways [of obedience and service].
They will lift you up in their hands,
So that you do not [even] strike your foot against a stone.
[The LORD says]:
'Because he set his love on Me, therefore I will save him;
I will set him [securely] on high, because he knows My name [he confidently trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never abandon him, no, never].
He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him…
And I will let him see My salvation.'"
(From Psalm 91, AMP)
Had any *floods* lately? How does God make you *waterproof*?!
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