Do you feel secure? How about safe?
On my home from the airport last week I stopped by the outdoor store to replace a fishing rod I lost when I turned over in my kayak. (Don’t ask me about this, please. I don’t want anyone to know.)
The store had added a new feature since my last visit: A showcase containing several Diamondback Rattlesnakes, and these were not the piddly specimens like the zoo keeps. These were Texas Rattlers!
One snake was especially active. I surmise he was fresh-caught and had not yet resigned himself to a showcase destiny instead of hunting for rats, rabbits, and small children who wandered from their mothers. He kept on the move and afforded us an opportunity to observe his movement, coordination, and strength.
On the other side of the cage, a father and daughter stood and watched the great snake whose head was as large as my palm. She appeared to be twelve or thirteen, and since it was a school day, I surmised she was on a date with her Dad.
The active reptile had been on my side of the cage while the more lethargic snakes were coiled en masse on the father-daughter side of the enclosure. Not finding an exit on my side, the newly-caged snake slithered through the rocks and cow skulls in the showcase over to the other side. In the process, he disturbed the other snakes.
That side of the enclosure came alive. Snake heads raised from the coils, cocked to strike. Tongues flicked and rattles buzzed, “Don’t tread on me!”
It was alarming! Even from outside the glass my senses recoiled.
Her movement caught my eye. Through the glass I saw the teenager adjust her position, pulling her arms in close to her sides while simultaneously—instinctively—edging closer to her dad. She tucked in behind his mass away from the writhing reptiles.
There—in her new position—she was safe. There, even more so than on the outside of the Plexiglas wall, she was secure.
The snakes became fuzzy in the foreground of my vision as I focused upon the man and his daughter. Over the course of twelve or thirteen years and assorted circumstances, this dad had communicated in myriad ways to his daughter that she was secure with him, safe when sticking close to his side.
I don’t know if the man was cognizant of his daughter’s proximity, but I was. It was a subtle action that will be missed one day when the girl is a lady living in another town and married to a man created in the rough image of her father. Her small step-tuck made enough of an impression upon me that I am sitting down to talk with you about my thoughts upon reflection.
What a great visual of security and safety. Neither were evident in the man and girl’s communication until her proximity changed in response to the snake stimuli. Then it was clear.
Maybe you had to be there. But since I was, I seized the moment to consider the concepts of safe and secure.
It is an odd thing: The older I get and the longer I am on the journey the more susceptible to fear I seem to become.
I don’t fully understand this. You would think with as many tight spots as I’ve been in at this point I would be fearless, like a battle-savvy Sergeant. Such is not the case.
Fear rises up more now than ever.
Perhaps when I was younger I was too “invincible” to acknowledge fear. Now that I’m older I recognize fear more often, often thinking it must be ubiquitous.
To be candid, there are times when full of bravado and fire, I step toward my enemy with cocky and arrogant self-confidence. Maybe it is from being bitten more than I care to recount, but I find a new tendency surfacing in me.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Right?
The young girl provided the visual I needed.
As I noticed her tuck-in behind her dad, I gained a vision of doing the same with my Heavenly Father. When my fears rise up to strike, there is a critical variable that does not vary: I’m never alone. My Heavenly Father is present and His mass is mine to step behind.
Psalm 91 begins, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High / Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”
The chapter goes on to talk about snakes and snares; refuge, rescue, and recompense. What is most striking—a great word when talking about serpents—is that all of the safety and security detailed in Psalm 91 hinges upon the pledge of Father to protect us.
Even though assaulted on every side by our enemy, the devil, we are safe in our Father’s grasp, secure in His faithfulness. Even though tempted to fear, there is no evil great enough to warrant our fearful response. We are safe, and we are secure. He has hidden us, shielded us, sheltered us behind the mass of His presence, greatness, sufficiency, and pledge of protection.
So, my safety and security are contingent upon Father’s faithfulness. I’d say that means I am safe and secure. This doesn’t mean life will not bite, but it does tell me my soul is secure.