Experience in Rio de Janeiro, 2010
“Do not be afraid, Abraham. I am your shied and your very great reward” (Genesis 15:1).
The Song of Moses
“How could one chase a thousand, And two put ten thousand to flight, Unless their Rock had sold them, And the LORD had given them up? Indeed their rock is not like our Rock, Even our enemies themselves judge this. For their vine is from the vine of Sodom, And from the fields of Gomorrah; Their grapes are grapes of poison, Their clusters, bitter” (Deuteronomy 32:30-32).
Three days ago, while sitting at the top of our apartment building rooftop contemplating the magnificent view of the mountains towering over the bay of Rio de Janeiro, my eyes stopped at a rock outcropping that I never noticed before.
Seen from afar, it looked to me as if the huge rock near the top had been forced out of the mountain, its distinct contours outlining the shape of a shield.
Interestingly enough, I had never noticed it even after spending some time meditating on the Scriptures on the rooftop before, during the 3 weeks since our arrival here.
Besides the adjustment expected from being in new surroundings, the spiritual battle has been intense, especially with Mírian having to train at a new job, while my life here has been quiet and gratifying.
Needless to say, praying for protection efforts have been redoubling. The Lord has answered with an increase in his grace over the situation as he is orchestrating the circumstances in our lives. We have seen the hand of God moving in our family and heard his responses in ways that are so encouraging as we witness his faithfulness and his ever-present lovingkindness and tender loving care in our lives.
The morning this happened, we had been praying for the edge of protection to be around Mírian and that her faith would be strong against the schemes of the enemy.
As I was looking more closely at the shield shape, the Lord reminded me of the covenant with Abraham and his words when the Lord appeared to him in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abraham. I am your shied and your very great reward” (Genesis 15:1).
I am not one given to seeking signs, but the Lord at times shows me visuals and then confirms it for me through the Scriptures and other witnesses. We all know the various verses relating to faith in the Old and the New Testament. This, however, was directly related to fear that Mírian was feeling. To me, this was clear; we are to raise our shield of faith against the enemy’s flaming arrows as a part of our spiritual armor.
But, in looking at the mountain, two things seem to be relevant and underline the relevancy of the situation. The shield formation was taken out of but still very much attached to the mountain, which is to say that our faith depends on being connected to the Rock of our faith, namely our Lord Jesus through the communion with the Holy Spirit.
Secondly, the faith shield was near the top of the mountain which, to me, means that the victory was close but that more efforts and cooperation on our part were necessary to reach the top of the mountain.
Another component of that scripture is that the reward of faith comes after having exercised the faith that God requires in our daily walk. Isaiah talks in chapter 40:9-11 about not being afraid and looking at the coming of the Lord in the last days:
“Lift up your voice with a shout, Do not be afraid. See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”
Hebrews 10:35-38 says basically the same thing, adding the need for perseverance in doing the will of God:
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.”
And, finally, on the last page of the Book of Revelation, the Lord Jesus himself reiterates His promise in Revelation 22:12:
“Behold, I am coming soon, my reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”
Since the Word says that a matter shall be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses, three more confirmations with more explicit details came from our family who had been praying fervently about our present situation.
I feel so grateful and greatly encouraged that when our Lord gives us instructions and shows us the way, in response to our prayers, He also empowers us and accompanies us, even though sometimes we get discouraged and temporarily experience fear and doubts that we are in the will of God. This is why we need to exercise the faith that He provides when we ask Him and to receive the encouragement that we are on our way to the victory that he has promised us and that He already gained for us at the cross.