I am sure every one of you can think of something that represents security to you. When I think of security, shelter and protection, I have a childhood memory that automatically comes to mind. My parents would take me and my younger brother and sister out to a lake to fish for an afternoon of fun.
Dad had a secluded place on this lake near Brownwood where he would take us to fish for perch. That was the second greatest highlight of the outing. I loved seeing the cork begin to bobble, and then, suddenly, it would go completely out of sight. There were only a few things that could thrill me more than jerking back on that old cane pole and landing a huge perch right in the boat. I think I was grown before I realized Dad had an ulterior motive in taking us for an afternoon of perch fishing. Those perch were his bait for the trotline he had stretched out across one of the secret coves at the lake.
Dad would drive the boat over to the place where his trotline was located, then he would cut off the boat motor and inch the boat across the cove as he “ran the trot line.” That’s what he called it when he would hold onto the trotline with his hands and pull the boat alongside all the strategically placed, baited hooks to see if any of them had caught a large catfish.
I said that catching the perch was the second greatest highlight of the outing. By far, the greatest thrill was the times when Dad would get to a place where the trotline rope would begin to jerk almost out of his hand. It was then that we three siblings would watch—wide eyed—as Dad would wrestle with the line until finally, in victory, he would flip that huge catfish over the side of the boat, right on the floor board at our feet. Money couldn’t buy that kind of excitement! The circus and carnival, all rolled up into one, couldn’t compete with that kind of a thrill.
One of these outings proved more eventful than most—turning out to be an experience I will never forget. It had been a beautiful day when we started out, but by the time we had finished our perch fishing and were headed toward the cove, everything changed. A storm came up on the lake so suddenly that there was no time to get back to the boat dock. The sky turned black, lightning flashed, and drops of rain fell with such force they actually stung when they hit.
Then, moments later we began to be pelted by large, marble-sized hailstones.
I saw the fear in my mother’s eyes, and I knew we were in danger. But, before I had time to wonder what we were going to do, Dad had driven the boat to the rugged shoreline of the only island on the lake. Boat docks surround that island now, but back then it just looked like an abandoned island with absolutely no place to take cover.
Within moments Dad had us all out of the boat and ordered the three of us to lie down beside our mother on the ground. He quickly pulled a canvas tarp out of the bottom of the boat, knelt down on the ground beside us and thrust the tarp up over all five of us. That storm raged outside the makeshift tent he had fashioned over us; the rain beat down, the lightning flashed and the thunder rolled, yet I could think of nothing else but how it felt to have my dad’s arms around us. There was a certain calm under the protection of the shield my father provided that is hard to explain now.
In fact, I had never felt as safe and secure in my entire life. I can remember thinking I wished the storm would last forever. I didn’t want anything to spoil the wonderful security I felt that day in our secret hiding place. Feeling my father’s protective arms around me, I never wanted the moment to end.
Although, I have never forgotten that experience, today it has taken on new meaning. Just as Dad had put a tarp over us that day to shield us from the storm, our Heavenly Father has a Secret Place in His arms that protects us from the storms raging in the world around us.
Peggy Joyce Ruth
From Psalm 91