I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. II Timothy 1:12b (KJV)
At the outset of a New Year, it seems good to consider the security of our families and ourselves in this rapidly changing cultural, political, and spiritual environment. As the gatekeepers of our households, how will we guard and provide for the welfare of those we love? How will we keep them safe?
In the Middle Ages it was common for the nobility to erect towers as part of the fortification of their castles. These towers, called keeps, were built of wood or stone and often served as places of last resort when outer defenses fell to attackers. From Ireland to Wales, throughout England, France, and Spain, there remain vestiges of these early structures. Tourists love to explore the ruins and imagine the stories held secret in the decay.
While physical security may not be the primary danger to present-day western families, at every turn there seem to be assaults upon our core beliefs, family values, institutions, and even our way of life. Today’s parents of young children and teens have to be especially “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” in dealing with today’s threats (Matt. 10:16). Information (and mis-information) barrages all of us relentlessly, while political correctness is a constant challenge. It’s critical to our spiritual health that we know how to discern and keep ourselves and our loved ones.
The word keep can be used both as a noun and as a verb with God’s Word giving us plenty of indication of his and our responsibilities in this keeping relationship. To begin with, there are numerous injunctions of what God expects of us, his covenant people. For example, we are to keep his commandments (Ex. 20:1-17; Deut. 7:12, 29:9; I Chron. 28:8, John 14:15, 23), and in exchange, he promises to keep us, show us mercy, and prosper us (Deut. 7:12, 29:9; II Chron. 6:14). In Psalm 91:11 God says his angels will have charge of us and will keep us in all our ways while Proverbs 3:26 says that he will keep our foot from being taken, referring to physical (and spiritual) protection. (The 91st Psalm, sometimes called the Soldier’s Psalm, is often prayed for those on the battlefield.)
While I appreciate the promises for mercy and physical oversight, I particularly relish those verses that refer to mental, emotional, and spiritual protection. God has promised to keep us in his perfect peace when we trust him and stay focused on him (Isa. 26:3). This supernatural peace that cannot be understood (because it only comes from God) will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7). It follows, then, that remaining at peace is a product of abiding confidently and securely in Christ.
And if we ever get concerned about losing our place in him, Jesus prayed that his Father would keep us from evil (John 17:15). Of course, we have to exercise our own will and cooperate with his leading, but he can be trusted to do his part. Finally, Jude 24 describes Jesus’ power as able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. That is the ultimate protection, and these verses are only a smattering of God’s expressions for guarding, for keeping, his children.
They are good words to ponder for ourselves and to teach our children and grandchildren as we go forth into this New Year: obedience and trust results in being kept. Just like those families in the Middle Ages, we, too, can run to our strong place of safety and protection—but ours is one that never fails.
Father, thank you for so many precious promises that give us life and hope. May we glorify you as we trust your keeping power. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.