Every now and then you come across a verse in the Bible that is worded strangely, makes you read it through a few times and wonder why the author used those particular words. Because even though people like us sat down with pens and ink to write, there was a Breath blowing through their thoughts and heart-worship that shaped their words in particular ways, to convey just the right message. So I always wonder “Why those words and what is it about that construction that He wanted us to understand?”
It happened the other night in the Genesis study, right there in chapter 15 when God gave Abram a vision, and while the group was reading the whole chapter out loud, I sat there and read the first verse over and over again. It was decidedly odd.
Not so much strange that God came to Abram, or even that He spoke to him, because He had done that before. It was what He said and how He said it: “Do not be afraid….I am your shield, your very great reward.” Very often a message from God begins with “Do not be afraid,” and very often it is because the message or the messenger is bound to be alarming to the unsuspecting person receiving it. This time it is clearly referring instead to the circumstances in Abram’s life, and God’s solution is Himself as a shield and protector. That is a more powerful and personal message than Abram could have anticipated, I am sure.
But then God identifies Himself as Abram’s reward, and equates His own presence with both the shield and the blessing, and now we are not in the realm of standard church jargon any more. We are used to asking God for blessings, and looking forward to the rewards we receive from our relationship with Him, but I have the feeling we are thinking more of tangential things like peace, or strength, or maybe even crowns. But here in the first book, God said He was Himself Abram’s reward. God’s presence…Him standing beside us through life, and how can there be any better shield from life’s hurts than that? Or any bigger thing to desire?
It’s one of those times when a verse of Scripture leaves you hushed and breathless, and your heart just wants to stay there awhile and think on it, drink it in and really take hold of it.
“You are my supply, My breath of life, And still more awesome than I know. You are my reward– worth living for– And still more awesome than I know. All of You is more than enough for all of me, For every thirst and every need; You satisfy me with Your love, And all I have in You is more than enough.” (Enough, Chris Tomlin)