“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh– my adversaries and foes– they shall stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident.” (Psalm 27:1 – 3)
Many years ago I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life. Getting through some days was hard enough. But relaxing and trying to get to sleep at night was nigh on impossible sometimes. And I needed to sleep and be rested to get through the days. That is when I remember an old technique called “swaddling”. It is mostly done with infants; you tuck a blanket around their body securely. It mimics being held closely safe and secure. What I did was take a second top sheet and fold it into thirds and then tucked it under the other to sheet. And night I open it up and slid my body into the folded over section. Then I repeat to myself “Nothing can get in here except for my Lord God, and what I bring. I can choice what I bring into this protected place. And I can choice what stays out.” Then I focus on the warmth and comfort of being safe and rest in the Lord. It has worked for over 20 years. Most nights I sleep very well.
“One thing I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will set me high on a rock. Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD.” (Verses 4 – 6)
I also have a Sherpa/pseudo lamb’s wool blanket that I tuck around me and sometimes over my head. Besides having some night time anxiety I also have problems keeping warm when I am trying to fall asleep. One side of the blanket is the Sherpa material, and the other side is a silky velour type of material. Softness, warmth, and secure embraces help me to relax and sleep. But all of these would mean nothing if I were not able to rest in the Lord.
“Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!
“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!” Your face, LORD, do I seek.” (Verses 7 – 8)
I do not know if the psalmist did the same thing; wrap himself tightly in a soft cloak and cover his head for warmth. But it seems clear that the psalmist did cry out to the Lord and sought solace and comfort in the Lord’s presence.
During those early difficult years I did sometimes feel that the Lord had “abandoned” me. Or at least that was my perception when the tough times came. What I eventually realized was the Lord was actually inviting me to closer communion with the Divine against those things that I felt were assailing me.
“Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation!
If my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will take me up.
Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.
Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and they are breathing out violence.” (Verses 9 – 12)
I have written at times that Lent is a time of testing. Our Lord God Jesus Christ was tested – tested by the devil with temptations that the evil one imagined that Jesus would give into. Tested by the Pharisees who thought to trip him up with questions and ominous warnings. And tested by the disciples who did not always see what Jesus was trying to show them. And though we may feel tested, we can always find the answer with Jesus Christ and our Lord God.
“I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” (Verses 13 – 14)
Whether this season of Lent be a time of testing for you beloved reader, or a time of learning – may you seek out the Divine and receive grace and protection. Selah!