This is my second attempt at this week’s FMF prompt. I wasn’t unhappy with the first but ‘protect’ is a big subject, prompted a lot of thoughts, and I wanted to write something meatier, something that wasn’t just about me. So here goes.
I love language – old and new words, finding out where words and sayings come from. So I looked up the origin of ‘protect’ and it’s from the Latin meaning ‘to cover in front’.
That automatically made me think about soldiers and shields: how a shield acts as defence against enemy attack but it also assumes we’re in a battle in the first place. Being protected doesn’t exempt us from danger, from ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’.
Shields of protection can come in human form. When my boys were babies, I became hyper protective and would physically place myself between them and any perceived danger – I would always walk roadside on the pavement or put myself between them and any suspicious looking stranger.
And that makes me think of God as my shield, my protection. He doesn’t magically make trouble or difficulty or even danger go away but He faces it with me, stands between me and it, covering me like a policeman on a raid, enabling me to move forward to attack the threat. The day before He died, Jesus prayed ‘My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one’ (John 17.15) – and there we are again, not an exemption from a trouble free life but a promise of protection in it. It’s a prayer I’m echoing for my boys as they leave home this autumn.
And I’m also reminded of a version of St Patrick’s Breastplate which I pray daily for myself and for my boys during their exams, for Jesus to be our shield – not just in front but more like the Roman Tortoise formation:
‘Christ as a light illumine and guide me
Christ as shield overshadow me
Christ under me
Christ over me
Christ beside me on my left and my right