Our puppy, Jack, has now been with us for three weeks. The first week I discovered that he was afraid of loud noises. I cranked up the riding lawn mower; he took off, tail tucked, giving me a look over his shoulder that said, “have you lost your mind!” My mother quickly called to him and soothed him. He visibly calmed in her presence but still kept an unbelieving watch on me and the monster mower.
The second week he ran for cover when a tractor came to plow the field next to our house. Then there is the weed-eater and the leaf blower. The most horrible scare came last week when a helicopter flew low over our house. We have a friend who is a helicopter instructor. Every now and again, when he’s taking a student out, he flies our way, comes low and hovers over the yard until we come out and wave. Mom and I have fun waving; Jack just trembled in terror at the alien in the sky.
There is something else I’ve observed about Jack. The first two weeks, when we fed him, he would gobble it up in seconds, as if he feared this might be the last meal for a long time. However, this week he has slowed, enjoying each bite, even glancing up with dancing eyes as if to say, “thank you for this.”
Jack has come to a point by week three that he knows his food bowl will be filled daily and he’ll have plenty of fresh water. Throughout each day, Mom and I take time to play with him, tossing frisbees and balls, giving him much loved tummy rubs, and playing tug of war with a rope. It’s been delightful for us to watch Jack simply calm down.
I sometimes wonder what it was like for him the weeks he spent alone in the woods. He was hungry, and no doubt, afraid. In our area we often hear coyotes howling and yapping at night. There are wild boar and bobcats, raccoons and deer. Of course, there are snakes! How terrified Jack must have been — but not now.
Now, Jack seems to realize he is safe. He still doesn’t like the riding lawn mower, but last week, he merely eyed it with suspicion instead of running for his life. The other day when we were playing frisbee, he stopped short, a look of panic on his face when a tractor chugged by, but when I called to him, he forgot the tractor and continued our game of fetch. It occurred to me at that moment — Jack feels safe in my presence. What a wonderful feeling of happiness came over me, too, to know Jack trusts me with what makes him afraid, allowing my presence and care to melt away all that would otherwise paralyze him with fear.
As I observe Jack, I smile in thanksgiving that we also have someone who is with us in the presence of things that make us afraid, too. Our Heavenly Father never leaves us, watches over us, loves us and soothes our fears in the presence of everything troubling in our lives. He never leaves us and always offers His own courage and peace.
When tractors of turmoil plow the fields of calm in our lives, uprooting our inner peace, our Father is there. When helicopters of fear hover in our world, whirling wild thoughts of what the unknown may hold for us, our Father is there. In the midst of any danger, perceived or real, our Father is there, “letting us rest in green meadows; leading us beside peaceful streams.” Psalm 23:2
Psalm 23:5 tells us that our Father prepares a feast for us in the presence of our enemies. What kind of feast? A feast of courage and peace, joy and calm, hope in exchange for despair. Everything we need is provided, even in the presence of everything fearful and shattering in our lives. No matter what makes us afraid, our Father is there.