Summary: The Blessed Assurance that no evil shall befall us regardless of the circumstances should cause us to rest contentedly in the fact the Most High, Almighty Jesus, will protect us and deliver us from any and every threat.
Connecting with God
How to Experience God's Protection
As I studied Psalm 91 this week, I was reminded of my experiences with 2 different young men whom I met when I worked in Yellowstone National Park back in the summer of 1971. Two young men whom I never saw again, but strangely whose vastly different fates when faced with a very real danger I read about years after knowing them as fellow employees at Canyon Village that summer.
I didn't know either of them all that well, but I knew them well enough to know whether they were Christians or not. The first one was a fellow pot washer, hired mid-summer, who was exactly my age, a tall, dark, and seemingly somewhat sleepy young man by the name of Richard Paul Coombs. I remember his name, his first and second name especially, because from the beginning he made it known that he could be called by either of his names—Richard or Paul. He was an engineering student in college and was from Polson, Montana. By that time I was already a witnessing Christian, so as we stood over the sink washing pots one of the few times we were scheduled together, I presented the Four Spiritual Laws to him. His response was a somewhat distant and non-committal, "that's always the way I thought it was." I later learned what I think was the reason for his non-committal response—he was thought of as the king of the Potheads, a very regular and passionate user of weed among those so engaged in Yellowstone.
His story is a sad one. Three years later I was working in the newsroom for the Whittier Daily News in California where I was a city reporter and sportswriter, when over the United Press International teletype machine came a brief news story about a tragic situation that had occurred in Seattle. It seems that a young man, Richard Paul Coombs, age 22 of Polson, Montana, had just graduated from college and was visiting his fiancé in an apartment building in Seattle, when he observed a robber stealing a purse from a lady. As he had attempted to intervene, he had been stabbed in the heart by the criminal, and had been killed. I don't know where young Richard Paul Coombs was spiritually at that point, but the chilling story has always served as a cautionary tale not to put the Lord Jesus off when you have a chance to trust Him as Your Savior, because you just never really know how long you have.
The second young man was a bright, blonde fellow, again my age, from the South with the unique name, Arvid Gates. I think I met him as we attended church services at Canyon Village. He was a born again Christian, and again, oddly, I had the privilege of reading about a very threatening situation he experienced less than 10 years later. I was reading a copy of Campus Life magazine in the 70s when I came across an article written, by of all things, a man named Arvid Gates who had been skin diving off the gulf coast. Undoubtedly, he was the same Arvid Gates I had known, and he had written this article based on a terrifying experience he had had while suspended below a skin diving boat. A large shark had made a beeline for him, turned sideways and opened his mouth. This was in the era of the movie Jaws, and so you can imagine just how terrified he must have been. And in that moment, he told in the article how he cried out to God to save him. And at the very same moment, Jaws closed his mouth, turned over and swam idly by. The article was actually about the crisis of faith that Arvid had afterward. He struggled, as I did, back then, when God actually answered his prayers with knowing whether it was a mere coincidence or an actual answer to prayer!
But after 50 years of accumulated experience of many emotional, spiritual and even physical dangers, I have no doubt about what happened that day—it was God. It was our rock, our fortress, our refuge, our deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ who saved Arvid. The same God who saved David from Goliath, the same God who delivered David from the Lion's mouth, the same God about whom we have read Psalm 91 this morning.
This Psalm has been a favorite of mine for more than 40 years—in fact I had it memorized at one time, and it tells us how to experience God's protection. It's a simply and convenient truth for those of us willing to apply it. Simply seek his protection. Trust, pray and obey the Almighty Jesus to be protected always. But my purpose is not simply to instruct you in that this morning, but to encourage you to believe that these promises found in this verse are real, and binding, and available to any who will take refuge in our Almighty God.