“Those who go to God Most High for safety will be protected by the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘You are my place of safety and protection. You are my God and I trust you.’ God will save you from hidden traps and from deadly diseases. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you can hide. His truth will be your shield and protection. You will not fear any danger by night or an arrow during the day. You will not be afraid of diseases that come in the dark or sickness that strikes at noon. At your side one thousand people may die, or even ten thousand right beside you, but you will not be hurt. You will only watch and see the wicked punished. The LORD is your protection; you have made God Most High your place of safety. Nothing bad will happen to you; no disaster will come to your home. He has put his angels in charge of you to watch over you wherever you go. They will catch you in their hands so that you will not hit your foot on a rock. You will walk on lions and cobras; you will step on strong lions and snakes. The LORD says, “Whoever loves me, I will save. I will protect those who know me. They will call to me, and I will answer them. I will be with them in trouble; I will rescue them and honor them. I will give them a long, full life, and they will see how I can save.” –Psalms 91:1-16 NCV
Yesterday was Day 3 of my 40-Day Purge. It is not unusual to have supernatural experiences during times of fasting. I wasn’t surprised to see something completely out of the ordinary last night, and after reflecting on it today, I believe my encounter translated into an important message.
Last night, instead of settling down in front of the television, I went to an evening Bible study at my church. I’ve never attended the group session on a Wednesday night. I’m relatively new to the 200+ member church, so any small group setting is awkward initially because I don’t know anyone. I tried to remain inconspicuous in the back of the room. I was excited to see someone turn on the television and prepare a DVD. That meant half the time we would be watching a video and then discussing it.
What happened next has never happened before. The leader of the group initiated a conversation about being prepared for “the phone call.” In this case, the phone call is that call you get with shocking news that brings you to your knees–the news of a deadly accident, the news of a fatal diagnosis, the news of someone you love passing away without warning.
For the next hour, people were promoted to share the most devastating moments in their lives and how they dealt with it. It didn’t matter whether the event was a miscarriage, a suicide, or the diagnosis of cancer. Everyone shared the same method of coping–trusting God for His protection. It was the only way they could deal with the pain, the heartache, and the loss. I was so moved by the stories that I thought at one point I may need to leave the room because I couldn’t hold back the tears.
Since it was my first time attending, I assumed this is what the group did all of the time and that the DVD preparation was for a group that meets the following day. I found out today that none of what happened last night was planned.
For me personally, I couldn’t stop thinking about how many times we live our lives in complete ignorance of the pain people are experiencing around us. Is our ignorance a symptom of selfishness? Or is our ignorance because many of these people who rely on God for their protection give absolutely no indication that, inside, they are experiencing complete brokenness? What would it be like to go through the worst experience of your life and know that God has promised to protect you in exchange for your love?
Though I haven’t seen a snake all year, I saw one as I was walking home last night from church. Half of my one-mile walk is along a busy highway. It had just started to rain when I noticed what I thought was a huge worm up ahead. I couldn’t see very far in front of me because it was already dark, and my light was limited to a small flashing LED light I use for safety reasons. As I got closer, I realized the slithering creature was not a worm but a small Garter snake. Garter snakes usually hide at night. Garter snakes usually move in the opposite direction of any significant vibration that could represent a dangerous predator. What on earth was a Garter snake doing in my path, in the darkness of night, right under my feet?
As harmless as Garter snakes are, I was afraid of it. My choices were to step out into oncoming traffic or step into ankle-high brush along the road. Either choice had potentially bad consequences, but I wanted to avoid that snake at all cost. I stopped dead in my tracks and just watched it. It was slithering and still staying in the same spot. The more I watched it, the more afraid I became. What if it turns around and lunges at me? What if I try to jump over it and trip into oncoming traffic? Though I could’ve easily crushed that snake, I was immobilized by the fear of it turning on me. Eventually, it slithered into the brush and disappeared. I ran the next 100 yards trying to distance myself from a completely unsubstantiated fear.
Clearly, that snake was there to send me a message. I was paralyzed by a fear that didn’t exist. I created a scenario in my mind that left me feeling completely vulnerable, alone, and trapped. Isn’t this the same paralyzing fear we experience when we get “that phone call”? We can choose to believe that we are protected, and nothing can harm us. Or we can choose to make bad choices, rooted in fear, that put us in even greater danger.
Instead of jumping out into oncoming traffic or into the unknown brush that may be hiding more danger, or worse, becoming completely paralyzed by fear, its time to keep walking through it. That harmless snake will either slither away or get crushed. If we believe that God is truly protecting those who love Him, we don’t have worry about “that phone call”. We can take shelter under his mighty “wings” and step on the snakes of fear, doubt, and pain that try to keep us from moving forward.