Picture yourself under the vast sky of an African savanna’s night. The radiance of a sunset’s orange glow has faded and now deep darkness has settled in. In your tent, your family has fallen asleep. But as you drift off beneath your own blankets, sounds of scurrying feet waken you. You listen. You realize the sounds are the movements of massive cane rats. Your ears strain to discern how close they are.
Then, all scurrying movements stop. The rats, beneath nearby brush, go still. They’ve heard the howls of wild dogs across the dark plains.
Rats outside. Piercing sounds of wild dogs approaching. You huddle beneath your blankets. Your heart catches.
Why does your heart catch at the rat’s rustling sounds? Why at the howls of the wild dog pack?
Fear or excitement?
- Does your heart catch because you fear the 22-pound cane rats, and the wild dog pack? Do you go still because you believe your dark surrounding’s unsafe possibilities are to be feared?
- Or, does your heart catch with excitement? Your children again went to bed hungry and so you huddle under your blanket straining to hear the night sounds of rats and wild dogs whose capture could add protein to tomorrow’s scant meal. You lay listening with growing excitement because you believe wild dogs and huge rats are a gift ready to be speared by your tribe’s nighttime hunters.
Our hearts catch based on what we believe to be true.
Our response to a situation does not flow from the situation’s particular set of circumstances. Our response actually flows out of our belief about and interpretation of those circumstances.
If my family eats cane rats and wild dogs, I hear their nighttime movement with rejoicing. If my belief = bush rats nearby are good, because the huntsmen are there for me, then I interpret their nearness differently than if I my belief = bush rats are scary because I’m on my own in a vast, unknown circumstance.
In the same way, when I begin to see all that happens in my life as over-arched and under-girded by God’s unstoppable, providential goodness toward me, I begin to interpret each new circumstance, seemingly adverse or not, through a grid of His unchangeable power and care for me.
As I pray to trust my heavenly Father’s never-ending, never-changing good for me, my perspective begins to change. What I would have interpreted as, “Fearsomeness approaching! Run!” can become, “Yes, scariness approaches, but I have a faithful Father who only allows good into my life. I’ll pray and stay with Him in this unexpected circumstance. I’ll ask Him to grow my faith in Him as I turn to Him in my desperate need.”
As He shows me more and more of His steadfast love and faithfulness toward me, carrying me through situation after unexpected, always-good-for-me-no-matter-what situation, my response to “run!” circumstances can transform. Supernaturally, by His kind work in me, I begin to trust, deep within, that, yes, the scary bush rats are there, but the One greater than the rats is, also.
The Huntsman never leaves me. He fights for me. I’m not alone. And this life-steadying truth catches my heart: He always wins.
“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty…
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.”
(Psalm 91: 1, 4-6, 14-15)