It was stupid, I know, but when I was a teenager my buddy and I tried to “ignite” a dry-ice bomb in his large backyard. We did all of the preparations (which, for legal reasons, I won’t describe here) and ran back to witness the pending explosion. We hid behind a plastic outdoor table and waited. And waited. And nothing happened.
Expecting a big explosion, we were a bit let down with the lack of pyrotechnics. So, using the table as a shield, we crept toward the incendiary device. Just as we were within a few feet, we noticed the top of the device beginning to expand and before we could move back the bomb exploded. We would have been hurt, I think quite badly, had it not been for the table-shield we were still holding up. Rather than being permanently disfigured, we fell backwards, surprised and laughing. It was pretty exciting.
Can you imagine what might have happened had it not been for the shield we were holding up?
In sacrament meeting yesterday I spent a little time in the book of Psalms during the ordinance of the sacrament. I happened upon the 47th psalm:
The princes of the people are gathered together, even the people of the God of Abraham: for the shields of the earth belong unto God: he is greatly exalted. (Ps. 47:9)
“…[T]he shields of the earth belong to God…” How often has God shielded me from situations that could have been much worse? How often have I complained about an event when, in reality, I was only receiving the manageable portion of the experience? And, lastly, what shields does Heavenly Father use to protect me and others, and am I ever used as a shield to protect those around me?
Am I a shield for my sweetheart? Do I look for ways to deflect the stresses of the day from her and sharing in the load of today’s efforts? If I really look for ways to assist my spouse, God can use me as a shield to protect her as needed.
Am I a shield for my children? Although I know that it is healthy for them to go through some hard things, are there some choices I can make to offer protection from the parts of mortality that will only do damage and not provide growing opportunities?
Am I a shield for friends and neighbors? Do I look to ease burdens or offer a sounding board or help with problem solving?
Am I using the built-in shields that God has provided for me? The scriptures are meant to protect. Am I using them wisely? Prayer offers protection. Am I praying diligently? Attending the temple offers a momentary escape from the blows of the world. Am I taking advantage of that gift? What are the other shields God has blessed us with?
Finally, the atonement of Jesus Christ offers the ultimate shield. God provided His Son to shield us from death and hell (2 Nephi 9:10). In fact, the Hebrew word for “atonement” is “kaphar”, which means, in one sense, “to cover”. Yes, like a shield…
I don’t claim to know more than anyone else, but I am sure that we don’t know the whole story when it comes to this life. I think that when we get to the other side we are going to realize that Heavenly Father was more protective than we ever knew…