Jehovah-Magen (God is our Shield) by Randy Rowley 12/5/17 ©


As every experienced sportsman knows, hunting, fishing, and sports shooting can be hazardous to your health.  Almost all of us have experienced scratches, cuts, scrapes, punctures, bruises, and burns while engaging in our favorite pastimes.  Fortunately, fewer of us have broken bones or experienced other injuries requiring ER visits while doing what we love.  And even fewer of us have almost met God or met God while pursuing our passions.

Perhaps it’s because I hunt, fish, and shoot more often than most sportsmen, or maybe it’s my friendship with Mr. Murphy, but I’ve experienced what could have resulted in severe injuries or death on at least five occasions.

The first experience happened when I worked at the YMCA while in college.  During the summer, I took about a dozen young teenagers, a couple of shotguns, shells, a clay target thrower, and a box of clay targets to a YMCA property near Buffalo Gap.

For the first few minutes, I thoroughly explained the fundamentals of gun safety and shooting.  Then we started shooting.  Everything was going fine – they were hitting enough clays to make them happy.  Then a young lady took her turn on the firing line.  She loaded my gun and said, “Pull,” and I loosed a clay target.  But the gun didn’t go, “Boom!”  Suddenly, she swung 180 degrees with the gun barrel pointed directly at my stomach and said, “It didn’t fire.”  Fortunately, she’d neglected to take the safety off, but if it’d been a hang fire, it could easily have been adiós amigos.

The next experience occurred during a September dove hunt with my brother, Mark, and his father-in-law, the late Scotty Scott, near Charlotte.  After a couple of hours, the dove started concentrating in the field’s southwest corner, around 250 yards away from us.

I don’t usually stay put when dove aren’t flying regularly where I’m at, and I see they’re flying with greater regularly elsewhere, so I soon headed towards the dove convention.  I walked along the edges of the field, using the mesquites and oaks ringing the field for cover.  As was my habit, I focused on the sky in front of me and to my left and right.

With only about 75 yards to go, I was interrupted by the unmistakable sound a rattlesnake makes when it wants to warn something it’s alarmed and nearby.  Things then happened very quickly.  In less than a couple of seconds, I located the rattler (which was less than a foot away from my right leg), jumped upwards, backward, and turned 90 degrees clockwise, and shot it twice before hitting the ground.  It was one of those “kill or possibly be killed” moments, and I chose to end the threat.  But it could have been arrivederci if that rattler had been in a biting mood instead of a rattling one.

The next experience occurred on the way to Lake Somerville for a November FCS self-guided duck hunt.  At around 3:30 AM, Tim Price, Ken Miller, and I headed south on Highway 79 between Thorndale and Rockdale.  I saw a fast-moving vehicle was about to merge onto the highway.  I slowed down and moved to the left lane to give them the right lane.  Then things happened very quickly.

The vehicle (a big pickup truck – at least the size of a Ford F-250) was going way too fast to merge onto the highway.  They hit their brakes, fishtailed, looked like they might flip, smashed into the concrete dividing wall, bounced off, and headed towards me.  My truck and boat trailer missed them by inches.  If I hadn’t slowed down, they would’ve crushed us between them and the wall, and it probably would’ve been auf wiedersehen.

The next experience occurred on the way to Lake Fayette for a July FCS self-chartered bass fishing trip.  Around 5:30 AM, I stopped at the stop sign at Hwy 71 and Hwy 159.  I looked both ways, saw no one was coming, and took a left turn onto Hwy 159.  As I made the turn, a full-sized pickup truck whizzed by Jeff Peterson, his sons, and me, missing us by inches.  It was pitch black, and their headlights were off.  If I’d pulled out a second earlier, they would’ve clobbered us, and it probably would’ve been say?nara.

The hopefully last experience occurred on a December FCS self-guided duck hunt on Lake Granger with my son, Ryan, Binh Chu, and Ken Miller.  Shortly after sunrise, three teal came into the right side of the decoys.  Ken and I shot at them, but my shot didn’t sound right, sounding like “Puff” instead of “Boom!” (I’d soaked the brass of some of my non-waterproof shells in a solvent to loosen rust that was on them – the solvent must have leaked into the powder, weakening it.)

I examined my gun and saw the fired case had failed to eject, the shell’s brass had split, and the plastic had crumpled.  It took a couple of minutes for me to get the pieces out of my gun’s breech.  I then had the foresight to check my barrel.  As I suspected, the wad had not exited and was stuck.  It could have been adieu if I’d chambered another round and then shot my gun with that wad stuck in the barrel.

One of the things the people who go hunting and fishing with me and I almost always do on our FCS early morning duck hunts and fishing trips is to stop by Whataburger on the way to our destinations, and we always thank God for the food and ask him to protect us while traveling, hunting, and fishing.  I’m firmly convinced God answered our prayers on the above FCS duck hunts and fishing trip.  He also protected me on that shoot and dove hunt.

Genesis 15:1 says, “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am your shield, your very great reward.’”  This aspect of God’s character is Jehovah-Magen – God is our shield and protector.  Jehovah-Magen was my shield during those trips.

As scary as my experiences might be to some, they pale in comparison to what Paul went through to share the redemption of sin through Christ with the lost.  2 Corinthians 11:24-26 says, “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move.  I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.”

Paul easily could have died from the lashes, beatings, stoning, shipwrecks, and other dangers, but God protected him because Paul hadn’t yet accomplished all God had set out for him to do.

As Christians, we’ll face trials ranging from stressful to dreadful.  Jesus said in John 16:33, “‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.’”  The trials we face can bear fruit and bring God glory if we respond to them with joy and gratitude.  James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance,” and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

When many unbelievers experience trials, they’ll become anxious and fearful and think life’s unfair and there’s no God.  But when Christians see the hand of God in every situation, we can rest in his perfect peace, knowing he’ll cause all things to work together for good.  Romans 8:28 (NASB) says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Psalm 91 discusses God’s protection.  Verses 3-4 (NLT) say, “For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.  He will cover you with his feathers.  He will shelter you with his wings.  His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”  Verses 9-12 (NLT) say, “If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home.  For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.  They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.”  Verses 14-15 (NLT) say, “The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.  I will protect those who trust in my name.  When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble.  I will rescue and honor them.’”

So, if you find yourself as I did those five times, a second away from serious injury or death, remember God is our shield and will cause every situation to work together for the good of those who love him.  And how he’ll be able to continue to use us depends on how we’ll respond to those trials.

The crumpled case

The stuck wad

Categories : Devotionals

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But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.