Our little home on small Shannon Lake seems like paradise to me. My neighbors are caring. The house is warm and easy to care for, but roomy and pleasant when the great-grandchildren visit. And God’s presence is here. My little dachshund Schatzi (her name means treasure or darling in German) happily explores the back yard, tail wagging, checking the shore line for interesting scents. She and the squirrels have a tacit agreement to leave each other alone.

But recently, about dusk, when I let her out, she came tearing back in, running so hard that when she got to the hardwood floor in the breakfast room, she skidded all the way past my chair to the wall. She climbed up into my lap, trembling. Then she nudged into her place of refuge, behind my back into the chair, hidden and safe. Something out there in my little garden of Eden had desperately frightened her. An ancient Irish prayer says,

From Ghoulies and Ghoosties, and long-leggety Beasties,
and Things that go bump in the Night, Good Lord, deliver us!”

A red-breasted hawk occasionally perches high in the branches of the sweet gum trees. He couldn’t carry Schatzi away, but his sharp talons could critically hurt her. A couple of Canada Geese keep wanting to build a nest in my back yard. The drake is a formidable foe even I don’t challenge. Did Scatzi maybe hear the howls of the coyote pack that sometimes visits the neighborhood? Did she run into a seven-foot black snake? It’s not poisonous, but it is a constrictor, and it bites. It would certainly frighten my little dog.

Or it could have been that obstreperous beaver who keeps gnawing at two oaks down by the water’s edge to build a dam? Silly beaver. We have a perfectly good dam not fifty yards away. Why can’t he be satisfied with that? He’s three times the size of Schatzi and a glimpse of him with his long reddish teeth could have frightened poor Schatzi into that frazzled bundle of fear. She might not know the difference between a long-leggety beasty that goes bump in the night and a genuine predator. All she knows to do when she is scared is to run to her fortress of safety.

For most of us, our fears are not of ghosts or imagined noises that wake us in the night. They are real, and fearful: an uncontrolled pandemic now in its third year of havoc, ominous threats of world-wide war, our own country scarred by confrontations, personal difficulties in relationships, financial struggles with raging inflation, frustrations at work and home, and the great unknown future looming. These are not imaginary long-leggety beasties. They are real and terrifying. How can we find protection? Psalm 91:1,2 says,

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare of the LORD:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
He is my God, and I am trusting Him.

`Your God is invincible. No one can breach His defenses. Your God is wise. He knows exactly what is really best for you. And your God has unfailing love for you. If you will come to Him, He will protect you and keep you safe. Go away, long-leggety beasties and things that go bump in the night. Our Heavenly Faither is watching over us with love and grace. We can find sweet rest in Him alone.

A Word of Comfort from Elizabeth Rice Handford