"O God listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth I will cry to you for help, for my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me." Psalm 61: 1-3 NLT
This morning I stood in a Provincial Court of Justice. A very intimidating and scary place for the uninitiated and inexperienced. Enemies were all around me. Powerful enemies. And they weren't the people that were bringing the charge against me. Not the judge, not the police officer, not the crown counsel. My enemies were all within. The captain was "fear" and his army was called "the fear of man".
"State your name."
The judge looked at me from his lofty and imposing perch at the front of the courtroom. "Susan Stewart," I said, wondering as I spoke if my knees were going to hold me through these proceedings. I was standing there to speak to the charge of "speeding under the highway traffic act".
In the preceding weeks, most of the people with whom I had shared my plans to contest this ticket would immediately ask, "If you got caught speeding, why wouldn't you just pay the fine?" Indeed. Why wouldn't I just pay the fine?
Well, God had other plans. That's all I can say.
God wanted to show me today that I don't have to prepare a defence. That I don't have to fear any one or any thing. That all I need is to know that I am "safe beneath the shelter of his wings!" (Psalm 61:4 NLT), no matter how the circumstances may appear. I stood there before the court and answered the charge with a quiet confidence. Some of the words that came out of my mouth amazed even me. I knew God was giving them to me as I needed them. And I knew I was being delivered from intimidation and the fear of man.
Intimidation is something I have been prey to all of my life. In the weeks leading up to my appearance in court today, God had shown me this weakness in my character (okay, call it "sin" ) ; through books I was reading, through circumstances in my life, through painful interchanges with friends and acquaintances. But God never shows us our bondages without also being ready to set us free. The only stipulation is that we have to do it His way. We have to have come to the end of ourselves, the end of our own resources and be willing to cry out to him throwing our whole selves on Him, holding nothing back. He doesn't settle for half a heart, or half a commitment. He wants it all. He wants us all.
It feels like a scary thing to throw away all your reliance on yourself and your own devices. But it shouldn't be. God is waiting longingly for us to get to the place where we will finally do that. And when we do, he is altogether trustworthy, altogether ready to catch us before we fall.
It doesn't matter whether I won or lost in that courtroom today. What matters is that God proved himself faithful. He proved himself able to answer my cry. He proved that I can trust these final words from Psalm 61:
"I wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation and my honor comes from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me."
Today I believed those words. And today I saw a life-long fear vaporize. I saw the fear of man lose its grip on me. And I saw an absolute confidence in God and his loving grace toward me take it's place. I had cried out to God to deliver me. And he did. He surely did.