Maybe it was the cheese steak sandwiches and the pepperoni pizza and the spicy Buffalo cheese dip that I had at my grandson’s birthday party, or maybe it was something else. I was lying in bed thinking about the teddy bear that I have had since I have been four years old. It just sits on a shelf; it is not in active use lest you have any concerns about my regressing maturity. I thought about giving it to a young boy who was going through some severe health problems, but I realized it would have very little significance to him. Then I thought maybe I should just have it cremated with me when I die. But I thought that’s pretty silly because I won’t be paying any attention to things like that. But then my mind started asking questions and trying to figure out things that are way beyond mortal comprehension. You know, the WHY and HOW of God and what death and eternity are going to be like. My mind started to put together ideas which on one level made sense but on another level were too clearly ludicrous and fanciful. I rejected them. But then I was struck by a feeling of fear, dread, and uncertainty which I could only describe using the psalmist’s words in Psalm 91:5 as the ‘terrors of night’. There might have even been a fleeting moment of panic before I began to pray that God would make me satisfied with what He has clearly revealed and deliver me from the terrors of the unknown. The feeling passed quickly.
As I lay there comfortably, I began to reflect on a conundrum. When I was in the throes of dealing with cancer, anticipating surgeries, receiving discomforting biopsy reports, and death seemed like a very real possibility in the not-too-distant future; I had comfort, trust, and anticipation. Now that surgeries and radiation are all in the past and I am regaining strength and health there are more and more moments where I have these uncomfortable feelings about facing death. I am rejoicing in what I have. I am cherishing life and relationships in a much deeper way than I had before. This is good, but I wonder if maybe I’m holding too tight to all of that. Maybe it was because when the prognosis was not overly positive, death seemed like really good option. Or it could be that I need to remember that while this life is so enjoyable and meaningful, I am not going to die and leave it all behind. Instead at God’s appointed time I am going to take the next step and be ushered into experiencing life in its fullest meaning. Then I will find peace and contentment and joy and satisfaction at a level far beyond the weak and incomplete sense in which I experience them now. Maybe that is key, I was thinking too much in terms of dying, leaving, and losing; instead of Biblically anticipating going, finally living life to the fullest and having eternity with my God.
I also need to remember to take verse 5 in its full context. It is merely the conclusion or natural outcome of some amazing truths about God and His care for us.
Psalm 91:1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him. 3 For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. 4 He will cover you with His feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. 5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day.