I Am Your Shield

Dear Lewis,

It was warmer today than it’s been in weeks. Your mom and I bundled you in warm PJs, a coat and beanie, and then wrapped you in a blanket before going for a walk on this beautiful, yet still cold day.

As we turned the corner on our way home from our two hour walk I noticed something strange at the end of our block. Someone’s sprinklers were running, in late November. The sprinklers were set in the park strip near the curb, drenching the grass and sidewalk. The yard in front of the house was steep, rising several feet on the house side of the sidewalk.

In short: we were trapped. We couldn’t traverse the slope of the front yard with you in your stroller. And we couldn’t walk in the street to get around the sprinklers in the park strip. There was only one choice; follow the sidewalk, through the gauntlet of water and cold November wind.

We devised a plan. Your mom would push your stroller while I would run along side it, blocking the water with my body to prevent you from getting wet.

We assumed our positions. In the most melodramatic voice possible I counted down: “3…2…1…GO!”

We dashed from our starting line, your mom holding the handle of your stroller securely with both hands, me shuffling sideways to provide as much protection as possible. Your mom screamed with excitement as the water flew in front of and behind the stroller, occasionally a drop or two connecting with her face or hands.

But I took the brunt of it.

I felt the pressure of the water pellets against my back, the cold sting against my neck. I screamed, mostly because of the cold, and a little hoping to make the scene more adventurous for the cars waiting at the stoplight who could potentially be watching us.

We crossed the property line, out of the sprinkler’s range. Your mom stopped to make sure you were okay, and you smiled so big that we couldn’t help but believe you’d enjoyed your adventure.

The whole ordeal lasted about five seconds. But it was the most exciting five seconds of the weekend, Lewis!

About a half hour ago a random thought – we’ll call it random, just to be safe – crossed my mind. The Old Testament calls God many things: redeemer, deliverer, Jehovah, Adoni, our shelter, strong tower and our shield.

Our shield.

Lewis, until our adventure with the sprinklers today I’d always thought of God as my shield from my point of view, from a selfish point of view. I’d thought, “Yes, He protects me, prevents me from much of the harm that would befall me if He weren’t there.”

Now I realize that “prevents me from much of the harm” really means, “He takes the hits. He absorbs the blows.” Next time you watch one of the battle scenes in the Lord of the Rings notice how much abuse the shields take. Notice how hard they are hit, how often they are hit, and the relief in the warriors’ eyes when the shields are hit.

It’s true, both literally and metaphorically; we are spared from harm because of our shield. That is its job. That’s what it does. That’s what it’s for. And from the beginning, God has been the shield of His people.

Most prominently and most importantly, He became, among other things, our shield on the cross.

On the cross, Jesus – God-become-man – took the hit for our sin. He took our death. He absorbed the blows of judgment we deserved.

We were spared only because of the cross; both the greatest weapon and the greatest defense against sin, death and judgment.

Lewis, I look forward to many more adventures with you and the accompanying chances to be your shield from whatever is headed your way. I hope through these adventures I can teach you, as you have taught me, to be grateful for our shield, our savior, our God.

I love you. Thank you for today’s adventure and wisdom.

– Dad

photo credit: Robert S. Donovan via photopin cc

Does understanding that God doesn’t just keep you from harm, but pays the prices by absorbing the blows for you make you even more grateful for His love?

What blows has God taken for you?

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