“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1, NIV 1984).
I was seeing her for the first time as a patient. She had come through a difficult surgery that had carried significant risk. Entering surgery, she had relied on her Christian faith and had felt little concern about her outcome. But when she had recovered, she felt different. She began to double lock all the doors and get out of bed to be sure the alarm was on at night. She was always looking back in traffic in case a car was following too closely. She would call to check on her kids many more times a day than before. Someone called her hypervigilant. She told herself, “This can’t be. I’m a Christian.” One day, she poured herself into Psalm 91 and her fear resolved.
We all go through moments of fear in our lives, fear of loss or death or failure. Some of these fears are justified in the sense that we are facing real harm, whereas others rise up out of hidden longings or past defeats. Fear comes from the realization that pain and loss may rise up and take away that which we treasure in our lives.
My pastor claims there are only two emotions: fear and love. He claims that the secret to fear is love and points to 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” (NIV 1984).
Does this mean that we should make ourselves love God more, so that we will lose our fear? Probably not. In the same chapter of John, the record is clear. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us…” (1 John 4:10, NIV 1984). The love that drives away my fear is not the love I muster up to hold the monsters out; it is, as in Psalm 91, the feathers of God that cover us even as we shiver in fright. It is God’s love and our hiding in it that drives out our fear. “Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you” (Psalm 143:9, NIV 1984).
“I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 17:6-8, NIV 1984).
When I am afraid, let me hide in the shelter of your wings.