When I was in the sixth grade, my brother and I got to camp out one night with our friends from across the street. We pitched a tent (about ten feet from their back door) and began a night of roughing it. We told scary stories, ate junk food, and probably said some bad words which we couldn’t define.
In a house a few doors down we noticed a commotion. Actually, we heard a commotion that sounded like a loud argument. A few minutes later the man of the house, who had a full cast on his right leg, stormed out of the back door through the backyards which led him to the yard where our tent was pitched.
We were afraid, and his gait made him even more ominous due to the cast on his leg. As he passed, we noticed he had a rifle in his hand. He was carrying it with the barrel down next to his cast. This sight drove us out of the tent and into our respective homes–my brother and I across the street, and our two friends inside their home.
We informed our parents and I ran into my bedroom and got my dart gun (which had ceased to function some time before this), which resembled a real Colt Officer’s Model .45 caliber. The whole family, except my sister who was asleep through it all, when outside and stood at the top of the driveway.
My mom and stepdad stood in front, me (with my inoperable dart gun) and my brother stood very close behind them. Nothing further happened and we never saw “the man with the cast” (as he came to be known in the neighborhood) again. But all four of us fearless campers slept in our own beds that night.
Now would be a good time to remind you of our scripture for this current teaching.
“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. 4 I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (NKJV)Psalm 34:1-4
There were three things that I sought that night during our camping excursion. The comfort and safety of home, false bravado given to me by a broken toy, and the security that came from standing close to (behind, but close to) my stepdad.
I had never heard Psalm 34 in my life or, if I had, it hadn’t stuck with me. We weren’t even attending church at this point in our lives. So, I did what my knowledge and instinct told me to do. First, run home to momma, second, grab a weapon, and third, hide behind my protector.
There is no mention of any of these things in this verse. The closest comparison is that David, “sought the Lord,” who is our protector, but that isn’t what I did.
We all have different defense mechanisms that come into play when we are faced with FEAR. But what I want you to get from this teaching is this, God is our protector, He delivers us from all of our fears, and our first response to anything, especially stressful situations, should be to run to Him.
There are three comparisons I would like to make for you. We are instructed in the Book of I Corinthians that our weapons are not what we think, not what our minds might originally tell us.
My first response was to run home. Home was a safe place, but not as safe as God’s dwelling place.
Psalm 91:1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.” (NKJV)
My first instinct should have been to run to God. I could have called on Him while I was running across the road. He, God Himself, should be our first choice of “refuge.”
My choice of weapon was wrong too! Running and grabbing a gun (especially one that is a broken toy) when trouble comes should not be your first instinct. Our first instinct should be something godly, not something carnal or fleshly.
I Corinthians 14: “3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” (NKJV)
This passage can be used in conjunction with Romans 12:1-2 which instructs us to renew our minds. This tells us to take our thoughts captive, which is a military term that implies making our thoughts prisoners of war, rendering them ineffective.
The first thoughts we have should be scriptural, which are mighty, and can pull down strongholds (also a military term). This skill can only be developed by renewing our minds with God’s Word, the Bible.
Finally, hiding behind my stepdad’s leg was smarter than trying to go up against “the man with the cast” by myself, but it really wasn’t the best choice.
Psalm 91:3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. 4 He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler. 5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day, 6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. (NKJV)
Instead of my stepdad’s leg, I should have sought the wings of the Almighty. Not because my stepdad was a bad person incapable of helping me, but because there is a better help, someone who can deliver me from all my fears which include “terror by night.”
God told us 365 times not to fear (Period 1). We have more than just a formula to use, we must make a personal effort to “come to Him” and access His power (Period 2). When we get there, we are safe (Period 3).
In a nutshell, “4 I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
Jim Clayton is currently the pastor at Colchester and Hills Grove United Methodist Church in McDonough County, Illinois. He has over 20 years of ministry experience and is an avid student of the Bible. He also has 20 years of experience in the criminal justice field having worked law enforcement, juvenile corrections, private and retail security, and as a court liaison for Family Service Association of the Wabash Valley.
He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology and attended a two-year Biblical studies program at Rhema Bible College and is currently enrolled in Asbury Theological Seminary’s MDiv program.