I have always been a fearful person. I think I am just beginning to realize how much I have allowed fear to drive my life. I have a habit of closing my eyes when I’m in a frightening situation – for instance, driving in snowy conditions. Well, not driving…it would be more dangerous for me to close my eyes then, which is why I rarely, if ever, voluntarily drive in the snow. I will, however, ride with someone in whom I have confidence. But I tend to keep my eyes closed. What I can’t see won’t scare me to death is what I say.
I have an aversion to being scared. I don’t like scary movies, never have. I don’t read scary books. I just flat out don’t like to be scared. I’m afraid of being afraid. Isn’t that something! And yet I find myself afraid a lot.
Maybe Jesus is bringing my attention to my fears. It would be just like Him.
I read in Psalms this morning, chapter 63. Verses 7 and 8 caught my attention. “For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.” In the shadow of Your wings. Mercy what a comforting phrase. As I began thinking about that phrase, I thought of all the times I’ve been scared and longed for a safe place to hide. I can’t say I have often been able to sing for joy when I’m hiding from something that scares me. Usually fear has clamped my throat closed and nothing more than a squeak is able to pass. I think, though, that my hiding place hasn’t been the best.
As long as I can remember I have just wanted to be safe. Free from the threat of danger, harm, or loss. I’m one of those weird creatures who fears the idea of something more than the reality. The idea of danger scares the snot out of me. Danger itself, well some obscure part of my brain kicks in and just does what needs to be done.
I have been in many dangerous situations over my lifetime. I am only now able to look at them and realize just how dangerous they were. I think that in the middle of the danger, I had a kind of acceptance of it. Okay, this is dangerous; oh well. Whatever happens will happen. It is what it is. Now that I’m out of it, and unlikely to be back in it, I can look at it and marvel. I know that part of the acceptance came from a longing to be free from the life I led, a longing so deep that even death was preferable, was acceptable. I knew that I would be forever safe then.
I didn’t feel I had a way out. I didn’t feel that I could change it. I had no safe place. I had nowhere to hide. What I should have been able to count on for safety is what was putting me into danger.
But…in the shadow of His wings, He was keeping me safe from harm, and I am so thankful. He was holding me. He had something so much better for me, He had freedom for me. He is so good. He protected me from myself, from others; He brought me through it and out of it, and He removed me from the situation that was causing the danger.
My soul clings to Him, and His right hand upholds me. His right hand upheld me even when my soul was not clinging to Him. Even when I was looking to anyone and everyone but Him to provide me with security, safety, He still upheld me. He still kept me safe. He still had His hand on me. He wasn’t through with me, and I am so thankful. He had more for me in this life. He had things for me to do, to experience, to learn, to share. He kept me for a purpose.
From July of 2019 through mid-August of 2020 He kept me safe from myself. I was out of the situation that brought about the danger I had been in previously, but now I was in danger of succumbing to the depression and despair that I lived in. I didn’t want to live anymore. I didn’t want to try anymore. I didn’t want to feel anymore. It was just too hard. I couldn’t be what others wanted me to be but I didn’t know who I was anymore. I didn’t have an identity. Even an undesirable identity is better than none at all. I don’t know if anyone out there will be able to understand what I mean when I say that throughout that time I would rather have gone back into the danger I had lived through than lose my identity. At least then I knew who I was. It was at least familiar, and what I was living out was unfamiliar and lonely and frightening.
I just wanted it to be over. I wanted to be done. I wanted it all to go away. I don’t know if there is such a thing as “functional depression” but if there is I lived it. Like functional alcoholism…it doesn’t keep you from doing your job or maintaining friendships, but it’s always there in the background. That was my depression during that time period. I got up and did my job, hung out with friends, lived it up with parties and such. And at intervals it would rise up to the surface and all I could think about was just letting it all go. At least then I would be forever safe from harm.
But I’m still here. I thank Jesus I am still here. I thank Him that He intended for me to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I thank Him that He had me by the hand, even when I didn’t realize it, and that He kept me from harm, and from harming myself. We had an appointment, and He intended for both of us to keep it.
I am in the shadow of His wings. My soul clings to Him. Sometimes desperately because I don’t know what else to do. Sometimes joyfully because He is all I need. Sometimes sorrowfully because living hurts. But my soul clings to Him, and He upholds me with His right hand. I have a future, and I have a hope. I have joy in this life, and a joy to look forward to that is beyond imagination.
I am still fearful sometimes, but every fear is now revealed in the light of His love for me. And in bringing those fears to Him, He works in me and through me, and teaches me something new. He is always there. He is always holding on to me. He is leading me, He is guiding me, and He is not through with me.
If you are here, if you are reading this; if you are alive and breathing, He is not through with you. There is more than what you have experienced. There is life and hope and freedom and love and safety and comfort and peace. He is not through with you. Do not give up. Do not give in. Let Him shelter you in the shadow of His wings.