I’d been pondering the silly things which had been keeping me up lately. Stewing in fear instead of moving forward in faith.
So the news story caught my attention immediately. I set the iPad down, turned off the trainwreck in my head, and leaned forward.
Last year, a middle school boy in our town was pitching for his team when a baseball hit him in the chest, stopping his heart. The ambulance came and rushed him to the hospital where he endured a lengthy recovered. He has no physical activities this past year. The camera shot to him standing on the pitcher’s mound. He was returning to baseball to play this eighth grade year.
The reporters interviewed him and his mom. He was excited, but nervous, to be back. Then he lifted his jersey to reveal what looked like a bullet proof vest. Apparently, an inventor made this powerful shield to protect pitchers on the baseball field. When the interview cut back to his sweet momma, she said he wouldn’t be playing without it.
He went back to the sport that nearly killed him, but he went back with protection.
They flashed to him rounding second base with a face splitting grin.
It felt like a story God custom delivered to my television set this weekend.
We can let fear stop us from going back to what we’re called to do. Fear’s great about that. It gives us an excuse. Sometimes it’s all in our imagination, but sometimes that fear is very well grounded in reality. I can only imagine if you nearly died on the pitcher’s mound, it would be intensely scary to go back.
Or, we can press past the fear, and lean into our calling, but go in suited up with protection. In Ephesians 6, God gives us that exact visual when He outlines the scary battles we will most certainly face as we step out in faith. Yet He offers a breastplate. A shield. A sword.
But even with that armor on, the instruction is not to then go charging off into the battle. The direction is: “Stand. Stand firm.”
There’s a verse I’ve clung to since 2014. The translation I memorized always said, “The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.”
It comes from a scene in Exodus 14 where the Israelites have just escaped their Egyptian tormentors. Yet they immediately find themselves trapped in the desert with an uncrossable sea in front of them and a furious army of Egyptians rapidly closing in behind them.
That fear was real. Death, by all realistic assessments, was imminent.
I went back to that verse today. I read it in six different translations. But I saw something different in it this time. “You need only be still” is regularly translated instead to equivalent of “if you’ll be quiet.”
The New American translation says, “The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent…” In the King James, it says, “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” The English Standard Version says, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” And in the pull-no-punches Message translation, it says, “God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut!”
The people were all yelling at Moses, why did you bring us out here to the desert to die. Why didn’t you just leave us to servitude in Egypt?
Well, that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but they were yelling out from a place of fear. And we often don’t make a lot of sense when we’re talking out of a place of fear instead of faith.
So the response was basically to hold on and shut up.
I needed to be reminded to stand firm but shut up. Fear talks loudly. It drowns out God’s voice. So if we spend our time arming ourselves with the breastplate of righteousness and shield of faith, we can be ready for the God to step into the middle of our fearful situation and do something crazy. Something like a pillar of cloud and parting of a sea.
Once you’re armed with a shield of faith, you won’t doubt that a pillar of cloud and parting of a sea can happen. Because God is still doing crazy unfathomable things today.
If He can restart a boy’s heart and set him back out on a pitcher’s mound (with a shield of protection), He can do the same for you and me.