Somewhere back in November 1989, they flipped the switch for the ‘World-Wide Web’, and the Internet became available to the general public. I remember this distinctly, as I was in my workroom at the time, listening to the radio. My memory bookmarked the day, because I knew with solemn certainty: “this is the day the world changes forever…nothing will ever be the same”. And it wasn’t. We all recognized that something unspeakably potent had happened, however, no one could have foreseen the phenomenal acceleration that would simply multiply exponentially from year to year, turning the information highway into a high-tech blur. I’m part of the generation that was there from the beginning, but I confess that the whirlwind of virtual environments has long since left me in the dust. Keeping up with the latest aps, platforms and gadgets is a full-time job. We’ve enmeshed ourselves within the fine-spun cocoon of social media, but what we won in ease, we lost in privacy. Big brother, little brother and nasty cousin are all watching and tracking our every virtual move. It’s highly unnerving, but we are surrounded by a great, unseen cloud of witnesses. As I think about this Leviathan we have nurtured in our bosoms, never have the words of Hebrews 12:1-3 been more apropos.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
What we didn’t fully grasp the truth of as a supernatural reality is being glaringly illustrated for us in the natural. We are encompassed by witnesses in both the natural and spiritual realms. Some are friendly, or at least benign, but a lot are malign, vicious, injurious agents of our prenatural enemy, Satan Himself. There’s no way to put it gently – they mean us harm. Even as tremendously cautious as I am, I’ve already innocently experienced enough predatory behavior on the Internet to scare the crap out of me.
The same feeling of danger and encroachment that threatens us whenever we enter the powerful vortex of the virtual, is, unfortunately, nothing new. In the Old Testament we find the same dilemma twinning privilege with peril. It’s wonderful to have the clout of a Prophet, but the difficulty is, armies come gunning for you. Ask Elisha (2 Kings 6:8-23). This double-portion prophet was able to advise the King of Israel about enemy plans and troop movements well in advance of dangerous ambushes time and time again. Finally the King of Syria had had enough. After locating the pesky prophet in Dothan, he dispatched troops to surround the city by night. This would naturally send the most phlegmatic among us into terror, and Elisha’s servant was no exception. Elisha, however, calmly answers his very rational fears with a strange prayer…”Open his eyes, Lord!” Suddenly, the servant is able to see a multitude of horses and chariots of fire on the mountain, a host of God far greater than the enemy. Amazingly, the enemy was taken captive, fed, and released. Not one shot was fired.
This world is a place in which we feel constantly attacked, whether by testing and trial, circumstances or our own insecurities. Voices around us are screaming vociferously, attempting to incite hatred, panic and despair. Kingdoms are rising and falling with such force and velocity it takes the breath away. Only a knowledge of God’s Kingdom is going to keep us safe. Countless times, when I feel menaced by tangible threats or nebulous fears, I have to stop and claim this reality again. We’re not only surrounded by angelic protection (Psalm 91:10-13), but the very Spirit of the Lord. You mess with God’s people, you mess with the Big Guy Himself. Returning to their homeland from a protracted exile, the Lord spoke priceless words of comfort over a very wobbly and apprehensive Israel. He declared: “For I,’ says the Lord, ‘will be a wall of fire all around her (Israel), and I will be the glory in her midst…for he who touches you touches the apple of (My) eye” (Zechariah 2:5,8).
No matter how stringent or pricey our security protocols are, the Lord alone is our impenetrable firewall. Ultimately, there’s no other refuge but His presence and power. Nothing is too small for His purview, no distinction too minute, no detail to tedious for the ardent love that sustains us. A passionate jealousy oversees our every move, as dotingly as parents watching their toddler’s first steps. Every now and again, when I despair of God’s hand in anything I’m doing, when it seems He’s gone on holiday, or attending to something far more important than my little orbit, something small but highly significant will occur that burns me again with the fervency of His devotion. I love the words of 2 Chronicles 16:9: “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in behalf of those whose hearts are blameless toward Him.” I’m beginning to grasp that we have absolutely no idea how intense all of this really is.
I recently ran across a very simple song that helps me capture and hold the powerful truth of being encompassed by the preeminent security of the Lord. I’d love to share it with you. Check out Josh Baldwin, “Surrounded” (Fight my Battles) on youtube; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlBiE4dXT2I It’ll bless your socks off and remind you how close your Savior really is. Knowing that the flaming army of God vigilantly surrounding you is greater than any other negative, damaging force you may encounter is what is going to keep you sane in the chaos and upheaval of 2018.