My eyes popped open and my heart raced when my phone buzzed at 1:00 a.m.. Good news isn’t usually delivered at that hour. I hopped out of bed and grabbed my phone.
“Mom, police have my dorm on lockdown and are running up and down the hall shouting. I don’t know what’s going on but I’m scared.”
It was from Ashley, my college freshman daughter, more than seven hours away from me.
I tried calling her but the reception was so bad neither of us could make out what the other was saying. Texting was my only option so I asked a series of questions trying to get a better handle of what was happening.
My hands were shaking. My heart was racing. And I felt intensely helpless.
When she was a little girl and cried out in the middle of the night, all I had to do was run upstairs. I could sit on the edge of her bed and rub her back. I could let her see me. Calm her with my touch. Be there to whisper reassurances.
But now that little girl was a college girl very far from me.
I couldn’t sit on her bed and she couldn’t see me. I couldn’t calm her with my touch. I couldn’t whisper those reassurances with my voice.
All I could do was text her.
And that felt completely inadequate in light of this situation.
Scary images assaulted my mind with all the possible scenarios a completely shaken mama conjures up in moments of frightening uncertainty. I sank down to my knees and begged God to clear my head and give me the words to text that would help.
This is one of those times I was wishing God would appear in a way my eyes could see Him and give me clear step-by-step instructions written down of exactly what to do. But I couldn’t see Him. And no Spirit Finger wrote instructions on my wall. Instead, I felt this gentle nudge to pay attention to what He’d already given me that week.
A set of verses a friend texted me and that I’d passed along to another friend.
Psalm 91:1-2, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'”
I love that these verses give us a script to say out loud, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Quickly, I texted Ashley these verses and instructed her to say this out loud over and over until she felt some relief with her fear. And you better believe I was saying it out loud over and over as well.
Isn’t it interesting the two words God is called here are refuge and fortress?
A refuge is a quick place you duck into to find shelter. A fortress is a place that is built intentionally for the purposes of exceptional security. The Hebrew word for fortress is metsudah with one of its definitions being an “inaccessible place.”
God is not just a quick refuge from the storm but He’s the place where fear no longer has access to me.
Fear can’t catch what it can no longer reach.
It’s not that bad things won’t happen to me or my kids. We live in a broken world where broken things happen every day. But as a child of God I don’t have to live with fear taunting and terrorizing me.
We still don’t know all the reasons why my daughter’s dorm was on lockdown. Thankfully she and her friends were safe and we all eventually got some sleep that night. I understand that other middle-of-the-night calls don’t turn out so well. I’ve sadly lived through those times as well.
But I’m determined to make some imperfect progress with processing fear.
I now know I can feel afraid but I don’t have to live afraid.
I can say out loud, “God, You are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” And then close my eyes and picture Him lifting us to a place where fear can’t catch us.
Help your child discover that God is always with them as they overcome new or scary circumstances with Lysa TerKeurst’s new children’s book, It Will Be Okay. Click here to purchase your copy.