By Linda K. Bridges for Blog Series: What’s in A Name Anyway?
I have a secret! (Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone else.)
I hate flying!
It’s crazy–I know. Especially since my life vocation requires me to go somewhere by plane at least four to five times a year.
Stats concerning air flight safety don’t make a bit of difference to me. I’m still a white-knuckle flier. Every time I’m on an airplane, as soon as the wheels start turning my stomach starts churning. My fingers grip the arm of my seat and I involuntarily close my eyes. I mutter prayers for safety; for the pilot and his crew; protection against storms and most of all—for smooth air.
I hate turbulence!
Dramamine and Jet Zone and Ambien
I’ve taken my share of products formulated to calm the body and dull the mind–like Dramamine and Jet Zone and various sleeping aids. They don’t help me.
I just don’t want to fall out of the air!
And yet, I still find myself packing my bags again and again— heading to the airport and boarding another plane to wonderful destinations. Why? I finally found a secret to take the tension out of flying—something that actually brings peace to my mind, and calm to my heart and soul—while I’m still ‘up there’.
My secret? It’s really quite simple.
Two verses from the Bible written on a card.
I call them my Traveling Psalms. Here’s how it works for me. I stow my hand baggage, fasten my seat belt, smile at my flight neighbors nearest to me. Then I take out my 2 ½ by 3 inch, dog-eared and worn cards and read Psalm 91:1-2 to myself. Then I meditate on these beautiful words.Slowly calm is restored and my stomach grows quiet.
Here’s why I love Psalm 91: 1-2 so much.
It gives four very clear metaphors for security that we, as believers, can have in God (especially comforting when cruising at 35,000 feet above the earth for 14 hours!). God will be our “shelter” (the secret place) and “shadow” (v. 1) and our “refuge” and “fortress” (v. 2). These images conjure up comforting places I can run to. The psalmist is saying that the shelter, shadow, refuge and fortress are for those believers who ‘really do’ dwell, or who live in close fellowship, with God and trust Him wholeheartedly. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
I also love Psalm 91:1-2 because in these two short verses, there are four names used for God, which give strength and substance to the metaphors just mentioned.
- He is “The Most High” God—El Elyon (just ponder that!)
- He is “The Almighty” God—El Shaddai (the All-Sufficient One)
- He is “The LORD”—Yahweh or Jehovah (who is Personal)
- He is “My God”—Elohim- (the Triune Creator-God)
The 19th century preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon once wrote this about Ps.91:1-2:
“The blessings here promised are not for all believers, but for those who live in close fellowship with God. Every child of God looks toward the inner sanctuary and the mercy-seat, yet all do not dwell in the most holy place; they run to it at times, and enjoy occasional approaches, but they do not habitually reside in the mysterious presence.”
I have a secret place!
The secret to quieting my travel anxiety, or any anxiety for that matter, is that I have learned to run to that secret place–the name of God and His Character–and to dwell there in safety. I can do this during the many times I’m in the air, in my car, or when my two feet are firmly planted here on God’s green earth. As a visual thinker, I have so many images that I can hold in my thoughts to bring comfort and foster courage. The knowledge of God and His unchanging character calms my anxious heart every time, no matter where I am or what my current set of circumstances are. Proverbs 18:10 (NIV) says,
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower [a place of refuge]; the righteous run to it and are safe.”
How about you?
Do you live (dwell) in close fellowship with El Elyon—the Most High God?
Do you rest (as a nursing baby rests in the arms of his loving, life-giving mother) in the all-encompassing shadow of the Almighty—El Shaddai?
Is He the place of your habitual spiritual dwelling? Is He your ‘secret place’ or do you run to Him only in times of trouble?
I believe this psalm was written and preserved through the centuries to urge ones like you and me, to trust in and cling to God in all circumstances. Here’s a prayer I wrote after pondering this passage. I hope you will take time to write one of your own.
“Elohim, You are my strong place of safety, my unshakable fortress and refuge in times of need. I will find rest in the protective shadow of El Shaddai—the All-sufficient, Omni- present One because I have made You, Yahweh, my constant companion. I will boast in You, my Creator, in whom I trust.”
I love my Traveling Psalm, don’t you?!
Here are a few other verses which calls God “our refuge and strength” and where the words shadow, rest and dwell are used to describe security and relationship with God.
Psalm 46:1-2a NIV
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear. . .”
Psalm 146:7 NIV
“The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our Fortress.”
Psalm 90:1 NIV
“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.”
Psalm 36:7 NIV
“How priceless is your unfailing Love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
Browse through the Psalms this week. Note God’s names and write a description of His character, His attributes, purpose, or works that He has done.
Praise him for His name, that is above every name.
Linda K. Bridges is a career missionary and Bible teacher for more than 35 years, having lived on foreign soil in both Austria and Thailand. Through her ministries she has traveled and taught the Bible in more than 20 countries, most recently in Nepal and Ukraine. She is also an author and children’s storybook illustrator and loves painting, writing poetry, and blogging.