Sunday, February 3, 2013

"The Security of Trusting in the Lord": In Memory of Teressa A. Richardson (June 28, 1956--February 3, 2009)

        "The Security of Trusting in the Lord"
              Scripture: Psalm 91:1-4

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!’ For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark” (Psalm 91:1-4, New King James Version).

I am honored and privileged by the Lord yet again to write these words for the people of God. Today marks the four-year anniversary of my mother’s death. Teressa Ann Alston Richardson was my mother and my best friend. She was my Bible teacher at home, my Sunday School teacher at church, and my encourager and prayer warrior, someone who prayed with me and for me through all the hard times in my life. She was one who found delight in meditating on the things of God, the Word of the Lord. After a three-year battle with breast, lung, and brain cancer, the Lord took His servant home to her eternal rest – where she is no longer in any pain, torment, or worry. She is in a place of peace and rest, looking forward to meeting her family and friends as we arrive in glory. Today, I take time at the blog to honor the woman who impacted my life in so many ways. If I have touched anyone’s life on this earth, it is because of the lifetime impact of my mother. You may have never met her, but to know me is to know her: I am like her in so many ways. I look like her, talk like her, and even have her laugh and mannerisms. She really left her “mark” on me!

If my mother could speak on earth this day, she would say that there is security in trusting in the Lord. One of her favorite passages of Scripture was Psalm 91, a passage that my deceased Pastor, Luther Alston Jr., also loved. The Lord has since taken my Pastor of 17 years home to be with Him as well. This morning, I heard my mother and my Pastor reading this passage in my thoughts. It was the Lord’s way of telling me that this Word needs to be said, it needs to be proclaimed.

We live in a world today that is concerned about security. We are told to buy car insurance so that we are “covered” in case of a car accident, health insurance so that we will be “covered” in the event of sickness, property insurance to “cover” us in the event that our property is damaged, burned down by fire, or destroyed by natural disaster. All these “insurances” are sold and purchased to “cover” us in case of a life disaster – whether to our selves or our property. Many consider that purchasing these things will make us “safe.”

But the “covering” the writer of Psalm 91 discusses today is not the covering of insurance regarding possessions: rather, it is the covering of your life, your protection, physically, emotionally, spiritually, from destruction, from the deception of Satan and the wicked man who dwells on the earth. Regardless of the number of those who oppose the people of God, Christians have a strength in the Lord that defeats them all.

In verse 1, the writer (presumed to be Moses, who wrote Psalm 90) uses an analogy that he will develop further into the Psalm: that is, that the Lord’s protection is similar to a mother bird who covers her children with her wings. Thus, he is saying that those who abide with the Lord, who stay with the Lord, will find a place of refuge, similar to the bird that finds protection by staying under its mother’s wings. Birds use their wings to protect their young; in a similar way, the Lord uses the union of Christ and Christian to protect His child (the believer) from all sorts of physical and spiritual harm. Paul writes to the Thessalonians of his desire to protect them when he says, “But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7). Both birds and humans care for their young. If they care for their young, and the Lord is greater than them all, does not the Lord care for His children?

In verse 1, Moses says that those who abide with the Lord, who trust in the Lord, will find the Lord’s protection. Trusting in the Lord is more than just a one-time trust, however: it is a daily trusting, a daily guidance and reliance upon the One who knows all things, who knows the future, who has laid out His plans for your life. It is a daily relinquishing of your own control and a turning to Him for direction.

In verse 2, the writer tells the Lord that the Lord is “my refuge and fortress, my God, in whom I trust!”. Do you tell the Lord this on a daily basis? In the same way that the Lord wants us to pray and talk to Him, He wants to hear us call Him “my God,” “my refuge,” and “my fortress.” Why is the Lord a refuge? He is a place of escape when troubles come, He is a safe hiding place, a place of assurance and protection from the troubles of life. From the word “refuge” comes the word “refugee.” A refugee is one who has escaped famine and war in another country. A refugee is, in general, someone who escapes harsh conditions of any kind. Therefore, a Christian who abides with the Lord is one who can turn to the Lord of heaven and earth when the conditions of life take a turn for the worst. When life around us is harsh and cold and chaotic, we can turn to the Lord in whom we trust to find stability, comfort, peace, and joy – no matter how long the trials last.

Moses does not go without pointing the way to the Lord. In verse 3 he says, “for IT IS HE who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence.” It is the Lord who rescues us from all kinds of danger, whether the “trap” of a hunter or a deadly disease. By using the specific situations of a hunter and a disease, Moses is asserting that the Lord guards us against all kinds of traps that are set for us, whether by individuals or sickness and disease.

In verse 4, we read more of Moses’ analogy between the protection of the Lord and that of the mother bird: “He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge.” The word “pinion” refers to the outer part of a bird’s wings, so the Lord will protect you from all outside harm – in the same way that a mother bird protects her young with the outside of her wings from outside danger.

“His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark” means that, as a shield protects a soldier from getting wounded, so does the Lord’s constant protection prevents believers from the death and destruction of Satan. Moses uses a simile here, a way to compare unrelated things (the Lord’s faithfulness, a shield, and a large structure). Since the Lord is faithful, you will have the protection that a bulwark provides. A bulwark is a large towering structure that was used in ancient days to keep enemies and invaders out of a territory or land. Whenever an enemy would invade a territory, the soldiers had to climb walls in order to invade. The wall was used to keep the enemy out. Although nations tried to prevent invasion, their walls were simply not strong enough. With the Lord, however, His faithfulness, His constant presence and strength, will protect you at all times. You need not worry about invasion or destruction by Satan and his agents when you have the Lord’s protection. His protection is fireproof and destruction-resistant!

I cannot do justice to this entire Psalm here, but I can say that Moses intended this passage to be an encouragement, a blessing to those who read its words. The passage mentions things like not getting sicknesses and diseases, and many Christians still battle these things. Yes, it is true that, as a result of the sin of man and the fall in Genesis 3, that even Christians battle sickness and disease. Yet and still, there are so many things that the Lord protects even the sick from, other things that would have come without the Lord’s protection. Even for those who are sick in body, this passage still rings true in so many ways that we cannot see. One day, we will get to ask the Lord, “What things did you prevent me from experiencing?”; and once we see those things, we will glorify the Lord all the more. One day, our faith in this passage will become sight.

Mother battled cancer for three years, and it could not have come to a more godly person than mom. Yet and still, she realized that trouble comes to us all. Trouble came to Job, and he was called “blameless and upright” by the Lord (Job 1:8). Trouble will come, but the Lord’s faithfulness, as Moses says, is a shield and bulwark. Mother, even facing cancer, found the Lord’s faithfulness to be her protection. If she were here today, she would quote the words of Psalm 91 and tell fellow saints to continue abiding under the Lord’s protection. Stay with the Lord, continue to trust Him and look to Him for all things, even your next breath and step. And when you don’t understand, ask the Lord to provide understanding. He will be faithful to you, no matter the situation or circumstance. Her life is a living testimony of that. God bless.