Near the close of my last post, I said I was going to talk a little more about this idea that God has our back.
Or, in military parlance, He provides top cover (a term used for combat airplanes flying at high altitude to protect a military force from air attack).
When a military force knows they have top cover, they are free to focus on their objective without worrying about unexpected attacks from above.
By the same token, when we know God is providing top cover, we are free to focus on our goals and objectives without worrying about how unexpected zingers could leave us in a pile of rubble.
I first came across the following quote at a time in my life when I was under some heavy fire – the combination of some embarrassing truths and more-embarrassing rumors were posing a threat to me, my loved ones, and my ministry.
I don’t know why I chose to pick up Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline then. The book had been on my shelf for a long time, among the ranks of the I’ll-get-to-it-someday titles (on my bookshelf, there is never a shortage in the I’ll-get-to-it-someday ranks).
I say “I don’t know why” meaning I don’t know what thought processes prompted me. But I do know why I picked it up. There was something in that book that God wanted me to see, at that specific point in my journey.
Buried in that hardcover edition, midway through the chapter “The Discipline of Solitude”, about halfway down page 101, was this priceless gem:
“One of the fruits of silence is the freedom to let God be our justifier. We don’t need to straighten others out. There is a story of a medieval monk who was being unjustly accused of certain offenses. One day he looked out his window and saw a dog biting and tearing on a rug that had been hung out to dry. As he watched, the Lord spoke to him saying, ‘That is what is happening to your reputation. But if you will trust Me, I will care for you – reputation and all.’ Perhaps more than anything else, silence brings us to believe that God can care for us – ‘reputation and all’”
Read that again. Let it sink in a minute. It’s solid advice.
God doesn’t require us to defend ourselves. He only asks that we trust Him. Think about these examples from scripture:
When Moses was accused in so many words of being a cold-blooded killer who would murder indiscriminately, he didn’t rally supporters and build a case to defend his reputation. He fled to Midian where he spent 40 years in solitude while God looked after his reputation, and prepared Moses for the work He had lined up for him.
When David was jealously painted as a political insurgent, he didn’t form an ‘occupy’ protest and shout his innocence from the town square. He escaped the royal city to hide in caves, and waited on God…who preserved his reputation and put him on the throne in due time.
After Saul of Tarsus was converted, he didn’t immediately go to Jerusalem to set every rumor aright and prove that Paul was a changed man, no longer the murderous Saul. He went into the wilderness of Arabia for three years and allowed God to be his justifier. And when he did go to Jerusalem, God had begun to prepare hearts to accept him for who he was.
So rest assured that God is perfectly capable and absolutely willing to provide top cover for His children.
We don’t have to defend ourselves.
And because of that, we have freedom to live courageously!