…let all who take refuge in you be glad;….you surround them with your favor as with a shield. Psalm 5:11-12 NIV

Lightening shattered the sky as torrential downpours hovered over us.  This storm had caught us unaware half-way into our hike. Besides being soaked through and picking our way carefully among the roots and gullies, I had slipped on a rock and landed on my right forearm. Thank God for his grace, for my arm fell on dirt rather than something sharp.  Nonetheless, the scrape was bad.  I held my arm up to catch the rain, washing off the blood.

When we hike, I follow Mike.  This day, I had been focusing on his backpack.  That morning I had meditated on Jesus’ promised provision of daily bread. I pictured all my stockpiled supplies in that backpack that the Lord daily carries for me. During the rain, I stayed close to Mike’s heels. This gave me a good visual of how closely I need to follow Jesus with my eyes locked onto that backpack full of planned provision.

Once the rain started, we hurried downhill as quickly as we dared. The ominous circumstances triggered a reminder of Satan’s lurking. Those storms seemed to park themselves right over us for the entire long descent.  Encountering two large snakes reenforced my awareness of evil’s presence. Gingerly, we stepped around these serpents, one while we ascending and one on our way down. Neither of them scurried out of the way.  What’s up with that?  I thought snakes avoided people.  Were they intent on catching us unaware?

By God’s mercy, almost an hour after the heavens opened up, we reached Mike’s red truck and found shelter.  Mike’s relief was palpable in his words, “Never again are we going to hike when the sky looks questionable!”  Mike has a healthy respect for lighting.  He knows fellow Ranger candidates who died, having been struck by lightening during patrols.

The next morning, Sunday, our Bible reading plan included Psalm 5.  Given our experience the day before, I immediately connected our safety with the words of verses 11 and 12 cited at the top of this post.

I pictured myself sheltered by God’s three-person shield. In my mind’s eye I ‘saw’ each member of the Holy Trinity with his back toward me. The father positioned himself on my left. Jesus planted himself right in front.  And the Spirit closed me in on the right.  The three locked shields to keep me surrounded and protected. 

I imagined them so close to me that I felt almost cocooned.

Friends, this is what God’s surrounding favor looks like.  No wonder the psalmist rejoiced in the midst of danger. 

God doesn’t block all the storms or the enemy’s attacks on us, but he keeps us safe and provides just what we need to stand firm, not giving into fear.