“Anoint the shield!” As I study the Bible I find that a shield is a very special and unique piece of the armor of God. It’s not a strength for catastrophe, it is that thing which keeps catastrophe from falling on me. The power of my arm may enable me to bear, but it is my shield which enables me to escape having to bear. My power is that which lifts me to my feet when the blow falls, but my shield keeps the blow from falling on me. My power supports what is already, but it is my shield that defends against what would have been.
Often I have thanked God for the provision of His power, but how many times have I praised Him for His protection? Many times I have heard His songs in the night, but how often have I stopped to thank Him that the night was not any deeper than it was? The poets talk about “ships that pass in the night.” They write of great, golden opportunities that were missed – lost in the darkness. To be sure, there are opportunities that come and go. However, I believe that the vast majority of ships that pass in the darkness of night are not carrying great, golden opportunities. No, I believe that the majority of our “missed opportunities” are things that would have hurt more than helped. How many dark, troubled seas have I been on where I realized that a ship had passed only to discover that it was bearing that which would have made the sea darker and more troubled than it already was.
One of the moments in the life of Christ that speaks the deepest to my life is when He had to look into the cup in the Garden of Gethsemane. As I pull up close, observe and listen I find that Jesus did indeed receive the power to go on in the end, but I also find that He received the strength of the shield in the beginning. That’s why He told Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” In the middle of a tossing, churning sea of trouble and catastrophe Jesus saw where a ship had passed in the night. He had been shielded from it and so He anointed the shield. He wasn’t thinking about what was taking place at the time, but rather of what might have happened – a ship that had passed by. So, He accepted the night for the sake of its one star and He drank from the cup of His Father.
How many blows have marked my shield, but missed my life? How many ships set sail for the shores of my life only to pass by in the night? When I am weary and worried I must realize that though I am tired and pressed, I have not “resisted to bloodshed.” When I look back on my time in the wilderness I must not forget my manna. I must stop and praise Him that there was a light in the cloud and that the night was not any deeper.
Lord, help me learn to anoint my shield. May I see the remains of arrows that fell broken to the ground before they ever reached me. Show me the pits that I passed by without even knowing that they were there. Allow me to catch the last, fleeting images of the ship of sorrow that passed me by. Help me to praise You for unborn dangers, unshed tears and unspoken cries. Let me thank you for the terrible page You didn’t permit to be written. When I am perplexed and uncertain show me a valley that is even lower than mine. Then I will be able to worship You in my sorrow from the safety I enjoy behind the shield.