Sweet relief is ours this morning with a precious promise from on high. In a heated and hostile world, where does the Christian find hope for his or her continuance? How in the world will we ever experience the eventual outcome of victory and lasting rest? You might have been taught that this potential rests on your own ability to achieve and accomplish — must we do something to earn this prize? Yet the person who has been thus taught should ask himself what do we have to do, how often, and to what degree must we do it? If our need for inner peace about where we stand with God rests upon how well we are performing on any given day…we do well to squirm.
“His faithfulness is a shield and buckler…” –Psalm 91:4
Read those words a couple of times over. Emphasize the word HIS when you do it. If you are scripturally saturated you have already learned of your ongoing incapability to do anything to obligate God to you. He has never been a debtor to man. The more closely we are drawn in to Him by our experience of His presence, the more awakened we become to how far short we fall of His glory and grace. The flaming light of His beautiful presence not only awakens us to His supremacy but also to our own spiritual lack. In learning of His greatness we become simultaneously convinced that we are, to say the least, not quite good enough. We find ourselves to be sporadic in faithfulness at best — sometimes good and sometimes ungood. There are flashes of brilliance wherein we do some significant things as we wait on His hand and look to His face. There are other days when we hand over the reins of our lives to our flesh and live in an utterly unworthy manner – our thoughts, our words or our deeds like a spattering of mud on an immaculate canvas. Could not our despair over sin and self enter in here? Not only could it, it often does when we look to ourselves and wonder how we will ever be confident of our placement in Christ.
The Psalmist hints to an overwhelming truth in the above quotation. He says to us that it must be the faithfulness of God Himself that becomes our anchored hope. God is the shield in the battles of life. God is the protector that prevents our doom. He must be faithful because we are not; be careful not to object here about us not being faithful because we must remember that the requirement of God to those who would earn his favor is not merely doing good or better…it is the permanent requirement of ceaseless perfection. If you attempt to earn God’s eternal favor, please discern that it is an all or nothing endeavor. Would you justify yourself by your own worth? Ah, friend, you are tardy to the cause because you have already failed miserably. It is too late to earn by determined resolve what has been forfeited in devilish sin. No, the security that our hearts crave must be brought from an external source. You need an imported and imputed faithfulness which has been achieved by Another. Our fickle fastidiousness is little more than sincere desire to respond properly to our loving and gracious God – the willingness is present but the execution of that will has fallen listless before us. The best among us cannot find shelter in his or her own intentions and accomplishments.
Note this: well-doing cannot lead to well-being. There has to be something else in which you will rest.
Why not try allowing your heart to rest in the absolute goodness and grace of God? Welcome the confidence that the faithfulness of Jesus Christ who always did those things which pleased the Father has been transferred to you by grace. Do you find your own performance unsuitable to breed confident expectation in your heart? Do you tremble violently when you sin and fail your Master, as if that last transgression was sending you over the edge with Him and grace can be no more? Can we become risky and brave sinners who will turn our eyes heavenward – away from our own regular failures and folly – and cry out in heart-rending gratitude that there is indeed One who is faithful? If we would have regular hope against the battles of the flesh, the world and the devil then we must have a ongoing source of that hope. I need a settled heart, a secured mind, a courageous will and a comforted soul every minute of the day. That means the source of all of that must be available and suitable at all times. I am not that source. You are not that source. Nothing we do or say or intend or accomplish can breed in our hearts the stillness we crave. Yes, the only point to which we can affix our hope is the faithfulness of the very One we long to welcome us. He is the offended One. He is the faithful One. He is the forgiving One. And He beckons you to hide yourself in what He has accomplished on your behalf.
Tell the accusing voice inside of you that you have fled to Jesus for refuge. When your weaknesses are named to you, name back the accomplishment of Christ on your behalf. When past sins are so real you catch their unfading scent, fire up the incense of praise to your steadfast High Priest who lives to intercede for you. When a lying conscience tells you that the thin ice of your eternal standing is cracking under you, don’t look down to see! Look up and you will find that the foundation beneath your feet is secured at the throne above your head. The faithfulness of God is your shield and buckler. That eternally secure shield has never known the penetration of even a single arrow of condemning guilt in all of the history of man. All who hide behind it are safe evermore. Rest there, weary traveler…He is as faithful to us as He has ever been.