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


As every sportsman and shooter knows, hunting, fishing, and 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 that required ER visits while doing what we love.  And even fewer of us have almost met our maker or met him while pursuing our passions.

Perhaps it’s because I hunt, fish, and shoot more often than most sportsmen, or maybe I’m just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I’ve experienced what could have resulted in severe injuries or death on at least four occasions.

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

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 clay targets 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 had neglected to take the safety off, but if it had been a hang fire, it could easily have been adiós amigos.

The next experience occurred on the way to Lake Somerville for a November duck hunt.  At around 3:30 AM, Tim Price, Ken Miller, and I headed south on Highway 79 between Thorndale and Rockdale.  I saw that 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 missed them by inches.  If I hadn’t slowed down, they would have crushed us between them and the wall.  It probably would have been auf wiedersehen.

The next experience occurred on the way to Lake Fayette for a July bass fishing trip.  Around 5:30 AM, I stopped at the stop sign at Hwy 71 and Hwy 159.  I looked both ways, saw that 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 had pulled out a second earlier, they would have clobbered us, and it probably would have been sayonara.

The hopefully last experience occurred on a December duck hunt on Lake Granger with Binh Chu, Ken Miller, and my son, Ryan.  Three teal came into the right side of the dekes.  Ken and I shot at them, but my shot didn’t sound right, sounding like “Puff” rather than “Boom!”  I looked at my gun and saw that the fired shell had failed to eject.  Not only that, but 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 the barrel.  And it was stuck.  (I had soaked the brass of some of my non-waterproof shells in a solvent to get the rust off – the solvent must have leaked into the powder, weakening it).  If I had chambered another round and then shot my gun with that wad stuck in the barrel, it could have been adieu.

I tried to push it out with my cleaning rod, to no avail.  After returning home, I unscrewed the head off my fireplace poker and finally knocked the wad out after about ten tries.

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

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 known as 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 spread the good news.  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 had not yet accomplished all that God had set out for him to do.

As Christians, we will face trials that can range 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 him with gratitude.

If we look at trials from unbelievers’ perspectives, we’ll become anxious and fearful and think that life is unfair and God has abandoned us.  That is what Job thought when he experienced his great trials (see the book of Job).  But if we see the hand of God in all of our circumstances, then we can rest in his perfect peace, knowing that he will work all things 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.”

The Psalms have a lot to say about God’s protection.  Perhaps the foremost is Psalm 91.  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.’”

If you find yourself as I did, a second away from serious injury or death, remember that God is our shield and will work the situation together for good, according to his will.  And how he’ll be able to continue to use us depends on how we respond to those trials.

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The crumpled shell

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The stuck wad

Categories : Devotionals

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