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Holding on tightly

But let me run loose and free, celebrating God's great work, every bone in my body laughing, singing, "God, there's no one like you. You put the down-and-out on their feet and protect the unprotected from bullies!" (Psalm 35:9-10)

Times were different when many of us were children. Back in the 60's when I was a wee one, no one thought it odd to allow their children to play in the front yard - oftentimes running from one neighbor to the next depending on who had the neatest toys to play the next go-round of imaginary play. If my grandsons want to ride their bikes, it take a whole lot for mom to not restrict them to riding in circles in front of the house! Today, we sequester our children from the world around them, arranging instead for "play dates" because we have a society in which we do not feel comfortable allowing them to run "loose and free". Sad, isn't it? I wonder, though, just how much of our life's celebrations we miss out on simply because we live so sheltered? I think it may be bigger than we think - fearing stuff that is both very real and some that isn't all that real at all!

Our psalmist penned these words right in the middle of a huge battle. He was surrounded by nay-sayers and those who were against him. In fact, he has been in this battle for quite a while. Right smack in the middle of the mess, he speaks about the freedom of his pursuers vs. his own freedom. You might imagine he would complain about being "hemmed in" - forced to see and do only what his enemies would allow him to do - but he speaks of being "loose and free". What his pursuers failed to recognize was the celebration every believer enjoys within which is not limited by the restrictions we feel "without". He could have chosen to pull in and live a very sheltered life. Safe and secure from the things which might hurt him in the world around him. Many of us do this without even noticing we are doing it. We simply "live life" without really knowing what is going on around us. "Let me run loose and free, celebrating God's great work, every bone in my body laughing and singing..." It was a prayer as much as it was a statement. He was conscious of the impact of the negative influences around him - he did not want to be negatively impacted by their presence.

We live in a society in which "bad stuff" (even "horrific stuff") happens. We are going along, totally unprepared for the tragedies of life. Then, without notice - we are plunged smack-dab into the midst of something we never thought we'd have to deal with. We cannot control our world. Try as we might, we cannot "pull in" and sequester ourselves in our own safe little cocoons. In fact, David's prayer hits it right on the head - he prays for God to continue to allow him to run free and loose. He is mindful of the heart's response of fear - how it paralyzes, pulls back, and tends to limit activity which we perceived as a threat. We may not be faced with literal assault rifles or rocket launchers pointed our direction in our moment of fear, but whether we face the diagnosis of cancer, the loss of a job, or the uncertainty of being left alone after a loved one has passed, we all face our "fearful moments". What we do in those moments determines the impact these moments will have on our lives (often for a long, long time).

What do we do with that fear? We take it to God. God is delighted for us to recognize when it is we are beginning to "pull in" and feel less like we are running "loose and free". We need to learn how to be honest with God. We can do that one thing with our "fear" that delivers us from the "sequestering" effect of fear - we pray! We open our heart honestly to God - admitting we're "surrounded". Isn't this what fear does? It makes us feel like we are surrounded. If we are not surrounded by enemies on the outside, we surround ourselves with "walls" to keep others out and ourselves "safe" - don't we? We want to be unrestricted in our praise and enjoyment of God! Fear keeps us from enjoying God as we should. We just don't sense his presence when we are surrounded with fear's tight grip - walls thicker and harder than a concrete bunker. Instead, we are attempting to "deal with" our fears. WE don't deal with them - God does! How? In freeing us to praise and celebrate his goodness, his faithfulness, and his grace! Now, that is something I can hold onto! Just sayin!

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