THE LORD ENCAMPS
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people both now and forever more. Psalm 125:125 NIV
“My prayer is no that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one.” John 17:15 NIV
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them. Psalm 34:7 NIV
Personally I was feeling hemmed in all on sides. One thing after another. Stress. No water – our pump and well had gotten infested with ants at the electrical outlet as they went marching in with their winter’s supply of food. Our water pump is not open for ant business, grrrr.
I got a nasty infection that has reared its head again, so another round of antibiotics. A COVID scare for my husband and subsequent test – praise God it was a common summer cold. Feet that throb, swell, scream and more. The administration of a Bible study, that I love but it's a lot right now, and the writing deadlines.
Oh, then there's the rattlesnake. Old timers will tell you that rattlers do not go west of Mackville Road. They swear by it. Well someone forgot to tell the rattlesnakes about this. Or else they cannot read a map. Seeing how we live on a small farm, it is not unusual to see the unusual. We have had stray dogs, cats, even a steer at our farm. We see raccoons, wild turkeys, opossums, and now we have wild boars to contend with. But snakes are not a girl’s best friend. I think it goes back to the Garden – we just have a natural aversion to those things and a good snake is a dead one.
Not all of them are bad, this is just my personal opinion. Apparently we want ones that eat gophers, pests and the like. We all know about rattlers and what they can do. It is ok to have them ‘out there’, but when one is on the step under the sliding glass door, this development required immediate action. My girls had seen and heard it earlier and my son came home to deal with it. He’s the one with the gun. No snake. After dinner, my oldest daughter Rebekah was taking out the trash when she encountered the said snake on the step – in fact she almost stepped on it. Praise God she did not.
She heard his rattle. He was threatened. She was threatened. It was war. My husband and sure-shot youngest daughter took action. My now-married son was on the phone as he was too far away to come, but Abbey was at the helm with the shotgun. She learned from my brother, my husband’s cousin Bruce and from her brother how to shoot. And she's a dead aim. She was prepared and ready.
The LORD encamps around those that fear Him. This was flooding through my mind as I was praying for this scene. I was also reminded of Psalm 91 that we are under the wings of the LORD and He will save us from the fowlers snare (verse 3). We will tread upon the cobra – well, in this case it was a rattler (verse 13). Knowing that NOTHING happens to us without God knowing about it was a great comfort in the midst of this very real crisis. We could not have a very real poisonous snake living on our patio, now could we? I make this statement for all the snake lovers out there. Besides, we're on a farm with animals. Not to mention my loved ones live here.
John made a noose to capture this intruder as it had managed to coil itself inside the back of our little refrigerator on the patio. I had called our neighbor who had shot the first rattler we had here 10 years ago that was coiled under our propane tank. (Did I mention that rattlesnakes are not supposed to be in these here parts???) With his 6-foot long pole and noose, John was able to snag the rattler around his neck and drag it out onto the rocks of our back area. Annie Oakley was ready. Our neighbor was too, but my husband asked if my daughter could do the honors. One shot. That’s all it took. Yes, she deserves the name Annie Oakley.
During this entire episode, I was very thankful for the LORD’s protection. His very feathers cover us. He surrounds us with favor as with a shield (Psalm 5:12). The inundation of weird stuff is just that – weird. No matter how many flaming arrows are shot at us, the LORD is our defense. He takes the hit of those that which are intended for us. For by His wounds we are healed.
It beings me great comfort to know that I am covered by God. When I read John 17 this morning to be reminded that Jesus prayed for me all those years ago, my heart was instantly soothed. I do not have to fear the evil that is all around. I do not have to crawl in a hole, bury my head in the sand, hide in a closet. I can be strong and courageous because the LORD is near. The LORD is here fighting for us. He has us surrounded on all sides. Oh, my enemy wants me to fear. He wants me to run in cowardice and hide in shame. Not much has changed since the Garden.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29 NIV
LORD, it is because You are the consuming fire that surrounds us, we worship You. It is in moments like these that we CAN bow down in worship and awe of Your goodness. You receive all my worship. May I never stop worshiping You – in moments of great trial or great peace. Because no matter, You alone are God. AMEN