A Hedge of Protection
I was speaking with a friend, yesterday, about Psalm 139 which talks about how God knows us so intimately, and oversees the details of our lives with absolute precision. In some translations, one early verse reads, “You hedge me in, before and behind….”
We were discussing this idea of being “hedged in” by God ~ in context, this has reference to the fact that the Lord both goes before us (as to clear the path, to lead), and follows behind us (as a rear guard soldier for protection). And some Christians use the idea of praying for “a hedge of protection” in this same way ~ sometimes alluding to other Scripture which talks about how the Lord sends his angels to keep watch over us.
But the nuance of which my friend and I were speaking had to do with a conversation he’d overheard involving two of our coworkers. One, a believer, was trying to describe to the other, a self-described “Buddhist Catholic” (who has no real Gospel-centric faith in Christ, but only believes in him as a kind of mystical “ideal”), what it is like to create “hedges” our MINDS, such as to protect against temptation to wrong thinking or wrong desiring.
What was remarkable was how foreign this idea was to our BC friend. It was clear there was no frame of reference for reining (reigning?) in one’s thought life like this, let alone one’s lived-out life (such as avoiding temptation to sin). And it occurred to me that this may be largely because our BC friend is very accustomed to letting her “heart” lead. She perceives this as a kind of nobility, like “love” is the highest virtue in her life. But instead, I find that it leaves her subject to the whims of her own emotions, she is often battling anger and depression on a day to day basis, and she lacks conviction about anything that’s “true” except perhaps her belief that all men are pigs and that’s why you can’t trust the Bible cuz it was written by a bunch of men, and so on. She is very like the woman at the well in John 4, and I pray she will yet have a STUNNING encounter with the Savior, himself, that will send her running to tell everyone she knows that she’s found the One who alone can save our souls!
My “take away” from these reflections and conversations is three-fold:
1) Love is not fickle, easily tossed about as by waves of the sea, or convictionless. So to HAVE some “boundaries” is like to anchor the heart (spirit) of a man, so he isn’t adrift and ultimately drowned. It is from this position of strength that he is MOST free to truly love.
2) The Lord IS ultimately our true Hedge of Protection. He encompasses us about, like the picture we think of when as little kids we sing, “He’s got the whole world in his hands!” But this is more than just universal power on display, this is a personal, covenantal, enduring FATHERLY protection, reserved for those whom he loves and who love him in return (savingly). He will ALWAYS guard and preserve his children and deliver them to the better and the best of his ultimate will. (This is the “mountain” of the promise in Romans 8:28. You might also read the so-called “hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11 with this in mind!)
3) And lastly, as a brief allusion back to my previous post about “No More Josephs?” ~ We ARE to also hedge OURSELVES in, to set proper boundaries, to say to ourselves we may “go this far and no farther.” Not that we are seeking to earn the good pleasure of our Father, but because in Christ we already HAVE it, and we LOVE him, and so where he draws lines for our good, we are eager to agree with him and obey. Thus we take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Thus we do not look on a member of the opposite sex as to lust after them in our heart. Thus we do not give room to the enemy by allowing sinful anger to take hold of us. Thus we flee from temptation and flee to Scripture and seek out the Lord’s presence so we are powerful to resist our spiritual enemy. God’s GRACE is sufficient!
And we LOVE it, because it is the overflow of our Father’s heart, and we love HIM.