May 1, 2009

But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. Psalm 3:3, 4

I grew up with a bunch of jokesters, and so did my husband Joe. We all like to think up puns and witty remarks, and occasionally, pull good-natured pranks on each other.

One time, though, Joe went a little too far. We, along with our ten-year-old daughter Mimi and my mom, were on a trail at the Grand Canyon. I had wandered ahead of the rest of them when I heard Joe call out, “Look, Penny!”

I turned around to see his and Mimi’s grinning faces just visible over the precipice. “What are you doing?” I shouted, my gut twisting into a big knot. “Are you out of your mind?” My poor mother, who’d seen them lower themselves into position, looked like she was about to pass out.

“Don’t worry, we’re on a ledge,” Joe assured me.

“I don’t care, get back up here!”

I couldn’t watch as the two scrambled up, immensely pleased that they’d pulled off such a great stunt. “That was fun!” Mimi said as I glowered at her father.

“What were you thinking?” I asked him. “You both could have been hurt!

Joe dismissed my alarm with a wave of his hand. “We weren’t in any danger. We had plenty of room.”

(To this day, Joe has a good laugh remembering the incident. I’d sure like to see his face if I ever tried something like that…)

Heart-stopping fear—that’s what I experienced that day at the Grand Canyon. I wish I never had to feel that way again, but unfortunately, I know only too well that I will. I have a history of anxiety attacks, which often evoke that same extreme panicky sensation of impending doom. Even though I’ve had therapy to understand the root causes of and what triggers these episodes of intense fear, and I take medication to make up for the chemicals my brain lacks to control them, I don’t believe I’ll ever be completely free of them this side of heaven.

We all have thorns—fleshly and otherwise—that torment and harass us (the apostle Paul talks frankly about his in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). At times, they can torture us until it seems as if we’re tottering on the edge, hanging on for dear life.

As the saying goes, “Don’t look down!” Instead—

Look around! God is our promised protective shield, and we’re safely in His care, no matter what’s happening.

Look up! One day He’s coming back to rule with justice and peace from high atop Mt. Zion, and all our difficulties will be as nothing.

Until then, I hope the Park Service puts up new guardrails at the Grand Canyon. Some people just can’t be trusted…

One comment

  1. elise says:

    Oh yeah! I remember well, our 40-day journey across the U.S. and back included an incredible sunset from the Grand Canyon. It was magnificent…and terrifying, as I had three young kids who loved sitting right at the edge of the canyon, inches away from a potentially fatal fall!!! I also remember the beauty of the canyon was so astounding that I cried at the sight of it. What a picture of God’s glory and majesty!

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