In 2005, I was faced with a personal dilemma that had frightening circumstances, which most of us have had in life at least once. I was driving the car of life over the speed limit – the same time that the rest of the vehicles in life were on the road – when a car came barreling out of a side street on my right, attempting to make a left hand turn straight into traffic. I slammed on the brakes, but it was clear to me that there was no way I could stop in time. I simply waited for the awful sound of crunching metal and the abusive shaking within my body to cause harm to my current disposition.
But it never came. I had stopped in time – yet, to this very day, I am convinced that the near missed collision was impossible. And for some reason, I was very calm in the awful mix of things. My heart wasn’t pounding like it should have been in a close call like that. I think that it was because the experience didn’t feel and/or seem quite real. I was so focused on thinking about the impossibility of what had just happened that I do not think the seriousness of it ever registered.
That’s exactly what it felt like to me on that day in Greensboro, NC – like an invisible angel had reached out with her hand and stopped my vehicle just inches from impact. I seriously doubt if an angel’s hand is any wider than a whisper, but apparently that’s wide enough to protect us from harm. As I drove away, my thoughts at the time were on the phrase, “the width of an angel’s hand.” One of the first times I was able to experience something of the sort was during my military tour in the United States Marine Corps, hearing the words “lock and load,” while on the firing range (preparation for war and the loss of life from weapons of destruction).
I believe that’s the kind of thing described in Psalm 91. It’s very possible that the author of this Psalm had a close call of his own and was so thankful for God’s protection that he was compelled to write about it. And, even though the dangers he talks about may be hard to relate to in this day and age (for some); I believe that we all understand what he is trying to say. Despite the poetic language, which does not always appeal to everyone, this Psalm has become an every day read, my absolute favorite, and the favorite for many. After all, who can say that they do not like the song, “On Eagle’s Wings,” which comes directly from the Psalm.
It certainly is an encouraging Psalm. It reminds us that God is watching over us and protecting us, and because of that, we shouldn’t be afraid. The Psalmist gives us quite a list of things that could harm or destroy us or cause us great fear – everything from a “fowler’s snare” to “pestilence, plague, disaster, and injury” – but, according to the Psalmist, we do not have to worry about these things as we make the most of our dwelling. If we rest in the shadow of the Almighty and make God our refuge and fortress and acknowledge the name of the Lord, we too will have little to worry. If we do this, then God will shelter us under his “wings” and keep trouble from our door. He will even send us angels to guard and protect us from harm. If we love God – truly from our hearts – He will rescue us and protect us. He will be with us in trouble, satisfy us with long prosperous life, and show us His salvation.
It sounds wonderful doesn’t it? But, do you believe all of it? Should we really believe all of this can happen for us? How can we possibly believe these things when each day, hour, and minute we are faced with the troubles along the road that we steer? We have all heard or personally know of someone who loves and trusts God’s word, but has not been satisfied with long life and possibly a prosperous one. Some have nothing but pain and suffering. Others are dealing with financial and health issues that seem so paramount that they are close to giving up all together. So, where are the angels of God at this juncture? No matter where we look in the world, bad things happen to God’s people. We would have to be blind not to see that real life does not match up with the promises in this Psalm.
For obvious reasons, we are not supposed to take this Psalm literally – or at least, not all of the time. Exaggeration is often used in Hebrew Scriptures – especially in poetry like the Psalms. From the very beginning, God has made it clear that faith and trust in Him are not an insurance policy against all adversity. Abraham and Sarah ran into plenty of difficulties, many of them due to their own willfulness, and God’s people have struggled with serious challenges throughout the history of our faith. Satan is still (and will always remain) at work in the world. I have recently learned this to be known as the “Absalom and Jezebel Spirits” and until Christ returns, Satan will continue to do his work.
But sometimes, the kind of rescue, protection, and salvation that the Psalmist describes really does happen, and it happens in such a powerful way that there is no doubt that God has saved us. In some cases, by no more than a width of an angel’s hand.
And when that does happen, we have an absolute duty to praise God, give Him thanks, and continue in His word into the future. We must emulate the actions of the Psalmist by blessing others from our blessings. These special supernatural events leave us with the overwhelming sense of gratitude for God’s unseen hand, which has protected us. They are reminders that God has not forgotten us. We are children of the Heavenly Father, safe in His arms, and our names are written in Heaven.
Yet, I wonder if we understand what a close call even that salvation can be? Do we realize that without God’s help, without the angel’s hand intervening on our behalf, we are headed for a deadly collision? I was faced with this in 2005 and only now, in 2008, do I get it! This is not what God wants for us. He is always trying to get our attention and we continually show the other cheek and in most cases, a deaf ear. He is always trying to save us from ourselves and our own love for things that we place in front of Him. He wants us to be saved for eternity to be with Him. Yet, how often has God provided for us or our protection and we have not even noticed? How often has there been nothing more than an angel’s hand between us and danger, or evil and death, and, we have not realized it? How often do we go on our merry way without acknowledging, accepting, and thanking Him for his strength and security in our lives? Is it possible that we have become dependant on worldly wisdom and security, which is temporary, instead of trusting in God’s shelter for eternity?
I write in my work, “The Art of Detachment Project” the following: “Success is based on the ability to achieve the “five transformative thoughts” to plan, brief, execute, debrief, and win your actions on the battlefield of life. These five thoughts are essential for individuals to gain the managing strategy that achieves personal transformation, both proactive and positive. They are: Simplicity, Alignment, People, Flexibility, and Towering Strengths. Learning to integrate these five thoughts into your life, you will begin to see a transition to your own pursuit of security. Men, governments, and nations continue to try and provide for every stage of life and to remove the causes of fear. They have failed miserably. The gain is wealth with little value, the development of technologies and weaponry for defense, but cities are destroyed overnight, and they progress in medicine and surgical skill only to be defeated by the increasing number of diseases in civilization. Not a single victory in the field, no success at the political booths, no ingenuity in technique can save the world. What is needed are the five thoughts to transform life through faith: simplicity allows learning to be easy, alignment keeps us in God’s likeness, people are the circle of oneness in Him, flexibility allows us to live through His word, and the towering strength provides the security and promise that all will be right in His kingdom.” In other words, one will be able to connect application to a measurable difference in performance as the vehicle of life provides an assurance that through the chances and changes of life, there is a divine protector in whose wisdom and grace we may find peace.”
As a United States Marine turned business professional, I have come to the realization that security is relative, whether for a military base, a home, or a business. Guaranteed security is impossible. There are steps that can be taken to increase or enhance the security around those things, but sooner or later, Tierney will find its way in to crush the defenses. Tierney will always find its way around the guard, the hidden key to the perceived lock, and the broken link through the firewall. A breach of this type to our security remains inevitable.
This is the reason that we need much more than worldly protection. We need the kind of protection only God can provide. And, you must do your part by learning, training, and teaching yourself and others for His Marine Corps. This is your way of putting on another piece of the uniform for battle. I believe that heaven’s angles can’t even give us that because it requires a choice – Actions carry a thought and shape a destiny – sure, they may save us from things like accidents and the dangers that lie waiting in life, but angels cannot save our souls. Only God can do that! Thankfully, He has provided a way for us to be saved, and that way is through his son Jesus. It cannot hurt if you have gained the knowledge of the “five transformative thoughts”- gaining this knowledge prepares you to acknowledge how “¹God made you from spare parts!”
It is important to know that Jesus will not only save our souls, but He has promised to resurrect our bodies upon His return to establish His kingdom. But, this is not something that comes easy for anyone. We must do our part long before that day is upon us – the time is now, the choice is yours, and the place is right where you are “now” sitting – only Jesus has the power to save and nothing is as important in the “knowing” as that.
Paul tells us that anyone can be saved, whether Jew or Gentile. Anyone is able to take advantage of God’s promised protection, and guess what; it only requires a “choice.” This is your absolute “Heavenly Insurance Policy,” the ultimate protection against the storms as they become prevalent in your life. The premium that you will be required to pay to take out your own personal policy has already been paid on your behalf by Jesus and, IT WAS NOT CHEAP! It was paid for with His life and therein lays your guarantee. A guarantee that has a check written to you with a figure that is so high, no bank can cash, but see the incredible value when presented at the teller window to one of His other warriors on the other side. You will know this person by a smile and a short statement to you, “God bless you on your journey. Hold this check until you arrive at the right bank to cash it. Its worth is greater than anything, as it is your eternal life.”
Know this, Jesus did the hard part. He did the work, and we get the reward. If you genuinely believe in your heart that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and rose from the dead, and if you can bring yourself to a quiet place to humbly acknowledge Him with a verbal response, then you will be saved and one day have an opportunity to cash your personal check of salvation. It is important to know that this does not mean He is to receive lip service. It doesn’t mean that we are only to call on Him when we are in danger, on our death bed, back against the wall with financial difficulties, or only attend service on the special holiday, or wear His name as the silver bullet to defeat the big bad monster.
No, it means that you are to be faithful in your followship to conquer each barrier that is placed in front of you throughout the journey. We must give our hearts, release control of our life, and make the Lord our fortress. Unless our hearts are truly transformed, leading us to act in keeping with what we say we believe, no amount of proclaiming that Jesus is Lord will be of any benefit.
Or to put it in a very positive way, we might remember the words written in Psalm 91: “…3 surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. 9 If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the LORD, who is my refuge 10 then no harm will befall you; no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. 14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation…” (New International Version)
We must not wait to receive the opportunities that Jesus has for us. We must not wait until we find ourselves in a dangerous situation that requires an angel’s hand to wake us up and remind us that our only real security is God. We need to make sure that our hearts are right with God now. Knowing this will only provide the confidence and assurance to trust that nothing that happens in life’s vehicle will ultimately harm us. When the right choice is made, our vehicle will steer us to our destination in eternity. No harm will come against us. Like the Psalmist says, God will protect us and take care of us. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ – not the terror of the night, not the arrows that flies by day, not the pestilence, plague, or sword. None of that, and for that matter, not even the very wonderful and welcome width of an angel’s hand.
My angel’s hand came in the form of a Godly woman, Katherine Harrelson, while in my darkest place, sleeping in my car for several weeks, blessed me with a gift that no money can measure – prayer – and a copy of the Holy Bible. Up to that moment, I did not have one of my own. She told me to read Psalm 91 every day of my life before leaving the house to start the day. That transitioning day for me was in 2005, and now that I have been blessed to continue my journey into the 21st century, I have found true love in Christ to protect me along my journey. I believe that I have my check to be cashed. Do you have yours?
My Outward Reform Began My Inward Renewal!
The reading of this text is my personal account of my changing experience that caused me to recognize the reasons for taking my own journey from ordinary to extraordinary. As you have seen, it required me to experience “47 Humbling Days to Christ.” Acknowledging my faults and challenges (outward reform) and accepting the honest perspective of my life at the time, I was then able to experience a breakthrough (inward renewal) that has positioned me to be in a better place to realize my future.
It is important to understand that you must be willing to do the unimaginable; push the start button to engage an “atom bomb” in your life – you will have to experience an implosion before you can receive an explosion. So, what about you? Are you willing to recognize the reasons for taking your own personal journey from ordinary to extraordinary? Are you will to humble yourself to receive Him into your life from a greater perspective than ever before? If you are, here are some steps that will assist you in achieving this objective:
Using Christ-like Principles Learn To:
1. Acknowledge, using the “Mirror Effect,” a personal reflection.
2. Put-Away Personal Agendas: Read Mark 8: 34 – 38
3. Restore thru Process: Get LeaderShaped! Read 2 Kings 23:1 – 3
4. Achieve Glory thru Voice: Find your voice and assume the responsibility to help others to find theirs! – Read Ecclesiastes 2:10 – 18 & 3: 1 – 8
§ The atomic bomb: Outward Reform Begins Inward Renewal
§ Implode weaknesses before you explode GREATNESS!
§ Personal Renewal – Personal Change – Public Change – Public Reform
§ Change is an inside-out process
5. Understand how to Achieve the “Law of Process:” Goals of the Church!
Read 1 Corinthians 1: 18 – 25
§ The church is a family: The Goal is to achieve maturity!
§ The church is a field: The Goal is to plant and harvest fruitfulness!
§ The church is a building: The Goal is to be strong in its foundation for growth and security of self!
§ The permanence of God’s wisdom is infinite!
6. Work to Achieve the “Law of Victory!” Read 1 Corinthians 15:50 – 58
Close with a personal prayer and begin to read Psalms 91 each morning for the remainder of your life here on earth. Most importantly, begin to share your testimony with others. This is my lesson to each of you now that we’ve crossed into 2009. Promote yourself in His kingdom and watch the blessings begin to change you from the inside-out. Happy New Year; make 2009 your year of renewal.