Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hedged In

"Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.” Job 1:10
What does the writer of Job mean when he talks about God having put a hedge around Job?  Have you ever thought much about that concept?  I have thought a little about what it might mean to have God place a hedge around my family and me.  I’ve heard people talk about people “praying a hedge around” someone.  I’m don’t believe I spent very much time thinking about what that actually might mean.

The implication is that if you and I walk with God, He will protect us.  I can see the logic in that theory, but I also believe there is an element of “degree” involved.  I also believe there are some differences of opinion of what  “walk with God” and “protect us” might look like.

For example, an article that appeared on July 30, 2004 in the Friends Bulletin, states, very simply, “There is safety in following God.”  The author uses the example of the Israelites in the wilderness.  “Although we talk about them wandering in the wilderness, they weren't strictly lost.  Certainly, they didn’t know where they were, where they were going, or when.  But they were being clearly guided every step of the way.”  I find enormous hope in that statement, because it reminds me so very much of my own life, much of the time.  I don’t know where I am, where I’m going, or when I’ll get there, but I know that as long as I let Him, God is guiding me every step of the way.  Isn’t that awesome?

From there, though, I’m not sure about some things.  For one thing, if we understand that God “puts a hedge around” those who obey Him, does that mean that those who don’t obey Him are out there completely on their own?  Hmm. 

According to one gentleman from Grand Prairie,  TX, the answer is an absolute YES.  He describes a time when He was not a member of a church.  He was attending, but He was not member.  One week he felt he was being strongly urged to join the church he had been attending.  So he did and two days later, his little girl was the only child not seriously injured in a school bus accident.  His belief is, that if he had put off joining that church that day, the outcome of the bus accident would have been very different.    I’m not altogether sure.  I could be wrong, but that seems to take this whole concept of “hedge” to a superstitious level.  What do you think?  Let me know what you think.

When we think about Noah’s life, we don’t see superstition, we just see Noah obeying God quietly and steadfastly.  Linda Michaels a producer quoted this line from a devotional she was reading. "The safest path is dangerous if it is outside of God’s will.  The most dangerous path is safe if He is calling you to walk that way.”  That certainly describes Noah’s experience, doesn’t it.  Even though John hadn’t written it down yet, Jesus could have been talking about Noah when He said, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love.”  John 15:9-10

Another idea that seems to be tied to the “hedge” is guardian angels.  It’s an idea that I really, really love.  I love knowing that I have an angel who is watching over me all the time.  I love the idea that when I get to heaven I will be able to talk to my angel and learn about all the times he (she?) protected me when I didn’t even know I was in danger.  With that in mind though, I remember when I was younger being told that if I went somewhere I was not supposed to go, my angel wouldn’t go with me.  Do you remember hearing that?  I found many articles by people who also believe that theory. 

One article, in particular, got my attention because of this author’s “hard line” on when God’s protection is available to us.  His example goes like this, “… if that angel hears your mother tell you to stay out of the street, would the angel stay in the yard or would he go in the street with you?”  And his conclusion is that the angel would not go in the street and that the child who disobeyed his mother would then be on his own, because to go with you where you were told not to go would be the same as the angel pardoning your transgression. 

I have to tell you I have a problem with that theory.  If our angels left us every time we stepped out of God’s will, I don’t believe any of us would be living right now, much less coming to church and growing in Jesus.  I understand that sin has natural consequences and that we experience those when we step away from God’s plan for our lives, but I don’t believe He ever leaves us on our own.  Again, I could be wrong.  Maybe I’m just trying to comfort myself, but I believe that even in times when God and I both knew I was not living the way He wanted me to live, He never left me.  His heart was breaking because of my behavior and my poor choices, but He never left me.

Now this author I was just telling you about completely lost me when he equated God with the President of the United States by saying 
“The president doesn’t personally read or answer all his mail.  He has staff to take care of it.  The president’s ‘angels’ deal with the mail using predetermined rules.  What they can’t handle they refer to him for a decision.”  
His conclusion is that when we pray to God, a guardian angel actually hears our prayer and then determines whether he can handle it or if he needs to send it up to God.  Definitely not.

The God I believe in hears my innermost thoughts, my deepest fears and my heart’s desire.  My God is the God that David describes in Psalm 91.  Check it out:
"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.'"

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