The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters…
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
-Psalm 23:1-2, 5
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
A rabbit sat out on the lawn of a church, happily munching on clover. It raised a wary eye to passers by, but it knew it was safe on the church lawn. Noisy kids rode by on bicycles, but the rabbit remained. The mail carrier delivered the mail, slamming the box shut, but the rabbit placidly chewed clover. Even when a street cleaner drove past, loudly brushing and spraying, the rabbit was unmoved. It knew it was safe.
What makes you feel safe? Where do you feel most safe? Is it a certain place, or being around certain people? Does a certain time of day or night feel more safe?
Often, people express feeling that safety and security are synonymous. In other words, the more locks, walls, or gates involved, the more safe they feel. These psalms tell a different story. Security isn’t the goal at all. After all, being at a feast surrounded by enemies or in the middle of an earthquake or hurricane is not my idea of security!
The Bible paints a picture of safety that depends only on the presence of God with us. Whether we rest in pleasant pastures or tremble with the mountains, when we trust that God is “very present” with us, we can be confident that we are safe. Oh, I don’t mean that no trouble or sorrow will ever come. The psalm says that God is “a very present help in trouble.” God doesn’t always keep us out of trouble, but God does always accompany us through it. We don’t have to be agitated when trouble approaches. God is with us.
Think back to the rabbit. I can think of all sorts of dangers that rabbit might face, from neighborhood cats to disgruntled gardeners. I wonder why it continued eating so calmly in the face of possible threats. The simple fact is, that rabbit wasn’t scared. Whatever happened around it, it trusted its safety.
What can we learn from the rabbit? Could you trust that God is protecting you when things are easy and when they’re hard? Could you believe you’re safe, whatever goes on around you? When trouble and disaster come, could you take refuge in God?
O God my refuge and strength, lead me through green pastures with still waters. Be ever-present with me in times of trouble and danger. Give me your peace. Amen.