We all need to take refuge. When the sun goes down, the birds roost and it grows quiet. Why do we think we can be different, always worried and thinking but never resting? We all need a place to hide, but this baby praying mantis is a good example of where not to hide: inside a vise. I am sure he thought this was a safe place to take refuge--perhaps, for now, it appears to be. But look at the potential: a turning of the handle will lead to one less mantis in the world. He’s in a scary, unfamiliar place--our garage-- and he picked what he thought would be a place where his enemies couldn’t find him. The irony is the very place he picked is an enemy.
We are no different. We hide in those things that the world says are safe: working all the time, drinking, smoking, unhealthy relationships, sexual gratification…all seem safe for a while, because we consider ourselves in control of what we are doing. We feel good and based our assurance on our feelings. Remember: Satan never advertises slavery as such. He always markets slavery as freedom, and because we like being in control, we strike a bargain.
But if we could see what we are hiding in is truly slavery, surely we would avoid it. But look at how Satan is categorized in the Bible: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) You wouldn’t go running to hide by a lion! But a lion that is prowling is on the hunt, and you may not see the reality of that until it springs out of the grasses, claws extended and mouth wide open.
How many people have thrown away their lives with promiscuity, drugs and alcohol, when it all started innocently enough? “I can put down any time I want” was what an alcoholic once told me, and I watched as the decades and abuse took their toll and rendered him eventually homeless and battling mental illness. We become enslaved to what we hide in, because it becomes harder and harder to face the world without our hiding place--it’s no longer a temporary refuge. It takes over and the chains on our hands and feet rattle louder and louder over time.
But look at our verse from the Psalm: hiding in God has two purposes: one is to restore us, the other to prepare us to fight and go out to be victorious.
The first part is seeking refuge under His wings of love and protection. I once saw a Canada goose at a park, on the walkway, with her wings loosely tucked at her sides. Then I noticed a tiny beak sticking out, and then out popped a little head. Under her wings were several wee ones, all safe and secure. They were looking out at a big world with the assurance that Mama was there to protect them. It is no different with God: we need to hide under His wings for a time, to watch the world and to be assured that He is there to protect us.
The second part of the verse switches imagery to that of warfare: He is faithful to stand by us and now we can fight: we have His shield of faith and a rampart of safety from which to see the battle and respond accordingly. No more hiding: we go out in a victorious manner, knowing Who our Commander-in-Chief is, and from the vantage point of the rampart, we can see that Devil-Lion hiding in the grasses, waiting to tear us apart.
Be careful where you hide: the world is like a vise, squeezing the life out of us. We need to take refuge in the One Who loves us, and then with His battle plan and His power, go out and face our world.
Precious Jesus: I hide myself away in places that will eventually enslave me. Help me to take time to be with You and seek Your Face and know that Your wings are there for me to hide under. But I don’t want to stay away from the challenges: they need to be faced, and with Your shield, I can face the battle each day. In Your Wonderful Name, amen.