“But the Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the man who trusts in him.” Psalm 32
Our preacher once said that the first words that famous chorus of angels offered to the quaking shepherds on the hills of Galilee are the entire scripture in a nutshell: “Fear not!” Thar’ ‘tis--the whole Word of the Lord to those who love him: “Fear not.”
Those two words are the heart and soul of this verse from Psalm 32 too, as well as the answer to the first question of the catechism I was reared with. The question is, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” And the answer is simple: “That I am not my own, but belong, in body and soul and in life and death, to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.” Same as.
“The Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.” Surrounds. When my grandson and I go to the park a couple of blocks from our house, he’s a terror. He’ll try anything. The only way for me to keep him from scoring something purple on his forehead is to stand beside him or around him or behind him, close enough so that at any moment I can save him from his own. . .his own what?—silliness, childishness, inexperience, innocence, stupidity? Maybe I should say, save him from being a kid. Not unlike us.
That’s not exactly what the verse implies, perhaps, but it’s close. Try this—God’s love makes us all look like the Michelin Man. In our every moment, he outfits us with rubber bumpers. Okay, maybe it’s not the best image. They’d get a little cumbersome, I think, and one couldn’t tap dance all that well.
How about this? When we trust him, we’ve got airbags on all sides, like a Lexus. I don't know, somehow it doesn’t quite ring true—maybe because of the level of wealth the Lexus connotes.
The first time I put on our children’s DVD player and heard the sound of Tora, Tora, Tora—or whatever—through speakers mounted in every corner of the room, the soundtrack took my breath away. I was in the middle of the action. God’s love is like surround sound. We are cocooned. We’re swaddled in his love. Whatever happens, we’re in his hands—always, forever.
Maybe I’m getting there.
If you think I’m being a little glib, you may be right. I’m sitting here smiling, but then I’m not sure that a smile is the wrong tone of voice. You may even call it childish, if you’d like, but the implication of this verse is soooooooooo good that it’s tough not to be a little goofy. It’s hard to write without a smile.
Two weeks ago, a woman told me a story of how, one night here on the prairie, her husband and young son were killed by a tornado that left her hospitalized on the edge of both death and despair. She told me that the only thing that got her through her travail was her repetition of the answer I quoted above: “I am not my own. I am not my own, but belong, body and soul, to my faithful savior Jesus Christ.. . .I am not my own.”
A Calvinist mantra, so to speak.
In life and in death, David says, fear not. The love of God surrounds you unfailingly.
Say it again and again, Michelin Man.