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A Hedge of Protection

There are some phrases that Christians use in prayers and in teaching that just don’t work for me.  I’m not into clichés.  I never watch the post-game interviews with athletes.  “We just gave it all we had.” “We left it all on the floor.” “It was a team effort.”  Just once I’d love to hear an athlete say, “Yeah, I was awesome tonight – and by the way it is a contract year.”

For example, any time someone would pray for a “hedge of protection” around me, I would always want to stop them mid prayer and say, “Do you think we could maybe do better?”

I have a “hedge of protection” around my yard and I still have rabbits.

Pray for a spiritual “Wall of China.”  I want a Presidential, nuclear war proof, bunker of protection.  A hedge just seems inadequate.

But, okay, I repent.  I found it today.  The “hedge” is in the Bible.  It’s in the book of Job.  The story of Job is this crazy story about God allowing Satan to test a great servant.  I don’t know why he did it.  I’ll ask him someday.

The Bible says that Job was “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8).

Satan had been out looking for prey and he and God were having a chat and God was bragging about Job and his fantastic heart.  So Satan says: “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?” (Job 1:10)

THERE IT IS!  The Hedge of Protection (I have to say it with a southern accent. I’m not sure why. They must have said that a lot when I was growing up in Oklahoma).

God DID have a hedge of protection around Job.  Well, actually Job was in the Hedge that God provided.

You see, back in that day the people were shepherds and ranchers.  They didn’t have barbed wire or concrete walls.  So they grew hedges.  I’ve seen the “hedge” walls they grow in Africa.  They use sticker bushes and close growing plants to try to make it difficult for their animals to get out and difficult for the bad ones to get in.

So Satan is out “roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” (Job 1:7).  If that sounds familiar, it’s because the African metaphor should stick in your head.

“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  (1 Peter 5:8)

So Satan, the lion, was out doing his thing one day and comes back hungry.  God says, “Did you see Job?  I’m proud of him.”  Satan says, “Yeah, I saw him – but I couldn’t get to him because of the (wait for it) “hedge of protection.”

Now from here the story gets weird, and it’s not really my point.  Because for some reason God cuts a hole in the hedge – totally not Job’s fault – and allows the lion in.  I cannot tell you why.  I don’t know why.  It was a test.  It doesn’t seem fair.

My point is that there was a hedge.

We are sheep.  God has a hedge.  We can choose to stay in the hedge or not.  This IS a choice we can make.  The lost sheep in Jesus’ parable in Luke 15 was not lost because he stayed in the hedge.  He was lost, because he wandered off.  Just like the prodigal son did.  It was a choice.

My point is that we have a choice to live in the hedge.  As we live closer to the shepherd, like Job was, there is a place of blessing.  A place of comfort and peace.  A place where “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, because the Shepherd is with me. God’s rod and staff will comfort me. He will prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, and anoint my head with oil.  My cup will still overflow.  Goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  (Psalm 23)

There are no guarantees that you won’t still go through the valley.  As a matter of fact, at some point we all will.  But the shepherd will always be with us.  And if we wander off, the shepherd will come find us.

My point is that our overall life plan is MUCH BETTER living on the inside of the hedge.

So you can pray for any type of Satan barrier for me from now on.

I’ll take the motion-activated sprinkler of protection or the inflatable fake snakeof protection or the solar powered owl with a turning head of protection. You name it.

But I’m also going to commit to staying closer to the shepherd.  I have a part in this process, too.

Tim

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