A few weeks ago I was leading worship at our contemporary gathering and we were singing a new(er) song, one by Chris Tomlin called “Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies),” and I could hardly sing. I was fine with the intro and first verse, but as soon as I hit the second line of the chorus, I lost it emotionally.
I struggled for the next three or so minutes, my voice cracking. After our last chord, I explained to our congregation what I’m about to tell you. Then we sang the chorus again a capella. It was a sweet time of worship — but not sweeter than that night I lay down with Micah.
Cindy and I take turns with Micah at bedtime, though sometimes his big sisters pitch in as well. After he has gone potty for the last time and brushed his nibblers, he and I sit together on the end of his bed. I’ll read a story that he’s picked out. If it’s an especially long one, we’ll read just part of it, although he’ll flip through the remaining pages, figuring out the ending on his own, as I’m getting up and switching off his lamp and turning on Jack Johnson, his usual nighttime music.
Micah will get under his blanket and I’ll lay down next to him. We cuddle and talk about the day for at least two songs. When Jack starts singing “Banana Pancakes,” Micah knows it’s time to pray and for final bedtime smooches, though he’ll press for at least one more song. When we were praying that night, a few nights before that worship service, I asked of God something having to do with protecting us and surrounding our home with his angels. We’ve talked about God’s angels before. Micah knows they’re not those little cutesy, baby cherubs, but valiant warriors stronger than Superman and Spider Man and the rest.
After I said amen, Micah started singing, “I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind / The God of Angel Armies is always by my side,” and I melted. He asked what was wrong, and I said, “Oh nothing. You’re right. Not only does Jesus send his angels to guard us, but he guards us himself.”
So, now every time we sing that song at church — as we will this weekend — my throat starts to ache and my eyes well up. Our little warrior-in-training will someday, when he surrenders his life to Jesus, enlist in the army of God, whose angels and saints push further into enemy territory. Until then, he is surrounded by protective forces whether in our care or at school (he just started kindergarten — more on that later!), as are our girls. And his, and their, dad and mom stand strong in that same army. (I’ve been rereading John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart.)
Thank you, Chris Tomlin, for the song, one simple enough for a five-year-old to get — a great melody and even greater words!