End Of Watch

“Thank you for your service Officer Smith, your brothers and sisters in blue have it from here, rest in peace.”

These are the words read by a fellow law enforcement officer in an attempt to honor her fallen comrade.  It is all too familiar in today’s society, the senseless acts of violence that rob families of their parent, child, brother, sister or friend.  Many find comfort in the traditional “last call” or “end of watch”—particularly those last words:

“Your brothers and sisters will take it from here, rest in peace”

These words resonate with me as I almost feel a sense of relief for the fallen officer who had tirelessly put himself in harms way for his fellow citizens. I think of every time he put on that uniform, kissed his wife and kids and walked out of his door.  I think of the constant sense of being on guard he must have felt.  I think of the toll that must take on a person.  While he always would have the support of his fellow officers, one thing remained a fact and turned out to come to fruition.  At any time, he could give his life in the line of duty.  My heart aches for his family and I can’t help but wonder if there is a way for us to experience said “peace” while still on this planet.  I wonder if somebody “has it from here” while I am still breathing air.

I know the answer, though tapping into that Answer is so much easier to say than it is to actually do.

We often hear or recite Psalm 23 at funerals.  But, Psalm 23 is not just for funerals; it isn’t just for people who have passed away or even their families.  Studying Psalm 23 has served to both comfort and chastise me.    While not a law enforcement officer, I am not different in that everyday brings something that threatens to steal my peace and keep my body in a constant state of being on guard.  I know that I have an amazing support system that would drop anything to come help me; yet there is always my version of walking out of the door into pure danger and the fear that danger could be the end of life as I know it. My enemy is so much greater than any assailant with a knife or gun.  He roams this planet seeking to devour us.  So, I run to His Word to find comfort and I find them in the words of the Psalmist and Psalm 23.  As I read the words and the promises therein, I realize something.

He has it from here.

I can rest in peace.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (v1)

It is a concept that returns the air into my lungs and calms my ever present nerves.  I have everything I need and that is the end of the story.   The thoughts and worries that can consume me are pointless.  They serve as nothing else other than to steal my peace.  Those things block my view of the only One that “has it from here”

“He makes me lie down in green pastures” (v2)

Our bodies were made for rest, as were our brains.  I love the words of the Psalmist here.  The visual of lying down in an open field of lush, green grass is comforting to me.  As I envision lying there, I also envision clouds.  Some of them are puffy and serve as provision when the rain comes or the sun gets too hot.  But others are dark and ominous and feed already existent fear of losing sight of Him. Those clouds terrify me and there seems to be no purpose to the dark clouds that refuse to drop provision on me.  I struggle with frustration because the clouds seem to be something that I must tolerate, when really, they are the very thing that serves to protect me while in the valley, but especially when I am on the mountain top. Clouds of uncertainty fill all of our lives; but the green pasture beneath us is a reminder, once again, of the One who “has it from here”.

“He refreshes my soul, He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake” (v3)

As I walk this life, I walk into battles daily.  We all do.  Every person’s battle is different—and maybe it is not in the line of fire like a police officer, but to us, the fear of losing the battle is just as present.  In some ways, perhaps we feel a little less equipped for our battle.  Seemingly, there are no uniforms, no badges, no bulletproof vests or even somebody standing by on the radio that can help us.  We are tired.  We need rest. He provides us with that rest; He refreshes our soul by giving us new mercies every morning.  He provides comfort in the way of His promises to direct our paths.  How often I forget this and wake up to the worries of the day and ill -fated strategies to win those battles.  Most days before I even get out of bed I have effectively undone the refreshment of my soul. The fear of the battles of the day often drown out the promises of the One who “has it from here”.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and staff they comfort me” (v4)

If you haven’t walked through a difficult, dark time in your life, you are in the minority.  The truth is we will all, at some point in our lives, walk through dark alleys where assailants stand by to harm us; we will walk into burning buildings where the fire of doubt and fear can over take us.  Most of us will call out on the radio for a friend to help us.  We will all find those things futile at some point. We will all come to a place where ONLY He can comfort us in the darkest days of our lives.  We will all find that end of ourselves where we have no other choice than to trust this promise.  We will all come to a point where we chose to believe that evil is not to be feared but to be fought, not by us, because “He has it from here”.  He doesn’t need our help, only our surrender.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (v5)

One thing we all have in common is that we have enemies.  We tend to focus on the enemies of this world and forget the enemy that purely exists to destroy us.  This verse in Psalm 23 is precious.  But, I struggle to remember that Satan is no match for the God of the universe.  As I learn to constantly abide with Him, there is a certain amount of comfort that comes with knowing that Satan will lose this battle.  It is up to me to believe and act on this promise.  When I am able to remember this in the midst of battle, I no longer reach for my wimpy weapons.  I no longer hope that the bulletproof vest will protect me.  I am overjoyed by the reassurance that I am chosen; I am anointed—when I chose to remember this, I can focus on the things that matter in life—not unlike a law enforcement officer, I have the opportunity to affect change in the world.  If I just believe that Satan is already defeated and that every single day I can say with great authority: “NOT today Satan, NOT today”.  I find myself reminding my biggest enemy that I am a child of the Most High God, and He “has it from here”.

“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (v 6)

This verse serves as the ultimate “end of watch” call from Him to me.  I don’t have to wait until I am in His physical presence to enjoy the peace that comes from my “end of watch” call from Him. He is constantly saying to me “I have this from here, rest in peace”.  He promises that goodness and mercy will follow me ALL the days of my life. This means ALL of them, not just the ones where I feel like this is true.  It is always true.  Without fail, He is there to watch for us.  He is honored when we take off the uniform, put down our weapons and let Him take the watch for us.

We are relieved of our duties to fight the battles; protect ourselves from evil and to play hero in the lives of others.

Because He has this from here.

May we not wait too late to claim the promises of Psalm 23.

It is the end of our watch.

Over and out.

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