Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Our Rear Guard

One of my favorite activities with my 22 month old son is walking. Specifically, we love to go downtown, get a coffee drink (for Dadda) and a mini-scone (for B-man), and run up and down the sidewalks watching the city wake up. Brennan loves to run ahead of me, and I love to be behind him so that I can keep an eye on him. I notice when I'm following him I'm always scanning ahead; looking for danger, cars, obstacles he might trip on, trying to keep him away from things that could harm him. I don't (and can't) prevent him from ever getting hurt or falling, but I can watch out for the big stuff...anything he might not be able to handle.

Last time we went for a walk I was struck with this picture; that of God as my "rear guard." That brought me to this passage in Isaiah;

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I." (Isaiah 58:6-9)

I don't know about you but I long for God to be my rear guard. In this passage, however, it's important to note the condition for the promise. The promise comes to those who...
- loose the chains of injustice
- untie the cords of yoke
- set the oppressed free
- share their food with the hungry
- provide shelter and clothes for those who have none

And when we do this, our "light will break forth like the dawn." I love that picture. Jesus was the one who said that we are the light of the world. And what is the light? Is it not to do the things that God has prepared in advance for us to do? The two great commandments are to Love God and Love our Neighbors (which includes our enemies). Not just to love with an emotion, but to love with action.

The point I think is simply this; when we are investing our lives in the things that matter to God, He indeed will be our guard. How are you doing? How am I doing? Are we paying attention to the important things? Mercy, justice, caring for the orphan and widow, loving the homeless and hungry? Not just with words but with deeds?

8 "He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)

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