Have you wondered what that expression means?
It means to have the ability to see what is going on around you at all times, even outside your field of vision.
Parents often display this ability, especially parents of toddlers. Some teachers seem to have this ability, knowing exactly what is going on in their classroom even when their backs are turned.
Though a noble quality indeed, we all know God gave us only one set of eyes and they aren’t in the back of our heads! Therefore, our vision is limited. We only see the things that are in our actual range of vision. Thus, our backs are left vulnerable.
So, who has your back?
In military strategy, an army assigns a group of soldiers who lead the way, making the path safe for those following. Meanwhile, another group brings up the rear, protecting the army or group from surprise enemy attacks from behind (Numbers 10:25, Josh 6:9).
Have you ever been struck from behind with a serious situation or blind-sided by yet another attack from the enemy? Do you have days where you feel like you’re dealing with one situation after another? You feel like you’re stuck in a horrible never-ending game of Whac-A-Mole, hitting one problematic mole only to have another pop up!
“For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard” Isaiah 52:12.
When the children of Israel fled Egypt, a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day was their guide. The fire and the cloud, however, were much more than just a global positioning system. They were signs of God’s presence.
Any man, woman or child who felt scared or overwhelmed by the journey they were on could step outside their tent door and see the pillar of fire or the cloud. Seeing it, they would be assured that Almighty God was with them!
At the Red Sea, though, God’s presence seemed to have disappeared, as the cloud was suddenly nowhere in sight. God was asking the Israelites to step into the sea by faith alone. He had already instructed them to do so through Moses, and now they had to choose whether or not to obey. They did, and found themselves trapped in the middle of a sea-walled path with a fearsome army in pursuit!
They could hear the chariots.
They could feel the thunder of the horses’ feet.
I am sure their hearts were crying out, “God, where are you?” as they searched the distant shore for the cloud.
Did God forget His people during the time they didn’t see or sense His presence?
Scripture says the cloud went and stood behind them (Exodus 14: 19-20).
You see, sometimes God has already told us what to do. Therefore, He is not shedding light on our path because He is at the rear fighting enemies we didn’t know were there!
Oh, how glad I am that the presence of God is not measured by my awareness!
He promised He would never leave us nor forsake us.
He keeps His Word despite how I feel.
Although I may not always see Him, may I be like Hagar who cried, “You, God, see me.”
During their trek through the wilderness, not once does Scripture tell us that the children of Israel were attacked during the night. Yet, it does tell us that the twelve tribes were to surround the Tabernacle with their front door facing the structure. That left their backs exposed to the enemy; for not even a roaming guard was placed on duty at night.
Everyone knows, even those of us with no military background, that you never leave your back open to your enemy. So, was Israel just being foolish in their military strategy?
No, they were doing what God told them to do. He was saying, “Focus on Me and where I am leading and leave Me to take care of your back. I will not only lead you and protect you on every side, but I will be your Rear Guard” (Psalm 91 & Proverbs 2:7-9).
How many times do I question?
How much time do I waste worrying about what could happen next or how I am going to do everything that has to be done?
No wonder Paul says: “…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…” Philippians 3:13. Paul knew his Rear Guard had his back.
Does it seem God’s presence has left you?
Does God seem silent?
Maybe it is because you are already doing what He asked, even if you think you are accomplishing nothing! Remember guideline number two? “Stop Striving!” This guideline number three gives us a reason to “be still.”
If God seems silent, maybe you need to go back to the last thing He instructed you to do and make sure you are doing it.
Elizabeth Elliot said it best, “Do the next thing.”
The path may be rough and obscure and the enemy may be closing in, but just “do the next thing.”
You may have doubts, fears and questions about God’s instructions, but just “do the next thing.”
Maybe you are still trying to get past the seeming impossibility of the task God is asking you to do, but just “do the next thing.”
Maybe the next thing is filling out that application for school or a new job.
Maybe it is making a phone call to restore a relationship.
Maybe the next step is just getting out of bed, despite your depression.
Maybe it is persevering in the little tasks of your ministry despite all the closed doors and apparent lack of advancement.
Keep spending time in the Word.
Just “do the next thing!”
Whatever is before us, we can handle it with confidence when we acknowledge the Lord is our Shield, our Strong Tower and also our Rear Guard.
We know nothing will happen to us that hasn’t already been filtered through His love and grace.
HE has our back!