You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
It was the last place to look and the best place to hide. Growing up in the 60’s, where no place was too dirty, creepy or dangerous to explore or hide in, there was still something unsettling about the dank and dreary room off of the cellar called the “bomb shelter.”
For one, it was black dark – no windows, no light switch. The small opening into it resembled more of a cave entrance than a doorway, casting a dim light onto a massive hutch that was left there. Using a flashlight, we discovered elaborate spiderwebs, a few boxes shoved against the wall and some rotting wood stacked in a corner. The hutch and boxes were filled with cans – canned peas, corn, potatoes, spam and baked beans. Oh, and lots of batteries. How utterly boring. Sitting on a box in the damp shelter, I could only think about how busy the spiders were over my head. And what was that noise in the corner? Mice? Monsters? As I got older, and my parents explained that it was all in case the communists bombed us, I knew my mother would opt for sunbathing in nuclear radiation over a can of rusty beans and sitting in mouse turds.
An article titled, “How to Help Your Child Deal with the Corona Virus Scare” caught my attention the other day. First I need to ask, Who is scared? I don’t think kids are, unless their parents make them that way. Even when we had to perform air raid drills and squat under our desks, (Yeah, that’s gonna help when an atomic bomb plops down on your town) I never felt scared or even mildly anxious. Why? Because the grown-ups took care of all that. The line between their world and our world was very clearly drawn. Air raid drills were a fun distraction to the droll tick tock of classroom life. And bomb shelters were a spooky hiding place. “The grown-ups are talking. Go play outside,” was the mantra we lived by. And we were good with that. I didn’t really want to be a part of their world – fat musty books and Walter Kronkite, politics and the work my dad marched off to “in the city” every day.
Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17
What a strange thing for Jesus to say!
There is a beautiful purity and child-likeness to faith. Real faith has no sentiments, qualifications or even belief systems. It just is, like the trust my grandson Quincy has when he rides his daddy’s shoulders. No fear, no worry that he will be dropped or concern even that daddy might get tired. In a valid sense, he becomes part of his dad, joyfully dependent, with a secure seat and a great view. This is a beautiful picture of how Jesus wants us to come to Him. I must remind my skeptical, critical self that my opinions are irrelevant; my objections over how God runs things are foolish at best – an affront to His holiness and sovereignty at its worst. Again, the line is clearly drawn.
I confess I get scared. Walking the dog at night, a sick child or grandchild too far away to touch and see– and heights! But I remember a specific moment in time when I lay down my worst fears – the kind that grip your chest or make you gasp for air in the middle of the night. It was just a week after I lost my son Spencer and Miles, his brother, was home from college for the funeral. It was time for him to go back, to FLY back and suddenly I felt a wave of terror sweep up and over me and I collapsed. I lost one, why not another? There is, of course, some truth to this rationale, that’s why fear is so crippling. Yes, it could happen again. In fact, I’ve known parents who have endured this horror twice, on separate occasions. But just then I thought, God, I can’t live this way. I can’t live crippled by What ifs and the hopelessness of No guarantees. Truth was, I was not in control. But in the rolling and churning ground under my feet, I still believed God was. So I surrendered – not so much Fear, because some fear is healthy and reasonable. What I was really releasing was my sense of control, my crumbling kingdom, uncurling one stubborn finger at a time until it was gone. I was humbled, and I was free.
God, in His grace, understands our fragility. Doubt, fear and Why God? swirl like a consuming whirlwind around us lately, kicking up clouds of those devilish microbes and bacteria. But here’s a secret. There is a hiding place. In fact, God made it just for His kids and it’s so much nicer than a musty bomb shelter. Is is a beautiful wide-open place, where you can move and spin and breathe in and laugh and sing out loud. You can see far from there – not as far as God can, but enough to know that you’re safe. Your Father’s got this, and He’s got you.
Fear exploits. And it morphs into group–think and we can quickly go from hoarding toilet paper to viewing our neighbors as microbe spewing murderers, sneering and cursing behind our masks. Fear manipulates and multiplies. It stalks and thrives in the shadows of uncertainty and is far more contagious than Covid 19, and I think more devastating.
I’m not sure Jesus cares that churches were closed for Easter. He’s more concerned about you and me, behind our masks and closed doors. He is there when you look at the mounting bills, the news, the bottle. He is there when you are really scared and you think you are all alone. You’re not.
“Follow me.” Jesus again. The path is not always clear and soft, the way can be difficult and obscured. But let him lead. He knows the way to the very best hiding place of all.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
You Are My Hiding Place by Selah – enjoy!