I lie awake thinking of you,

   meditating on you through the night.

   Because you are my helper,

   I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.

   I cling to you;

   your strong right hand holds me securely.

   Psalm 63:6-8 (NLT)

The phone rang last week and my world tilted. As I listened to the nurse give me a report on some recent x-rays, all I could hear was the word “lesion” that was found in my right hip. She had no explanation, of course, and suggested that I set up an appointment with my doctor. My mind started racing and immediately latched on to the worst-case scenario. Why do we do that? Mark gently reminded me not to worry but I decided I would rather have my own private pity party first. I mentally struggled with all the “what if’s” and fretted most of the evening. As bedtime approached, the fear that sleep would be elusive compounded my anxiety. I am very good at going over and over things in my head when I hit the pillow. But that night, when darkness settled in and threatened to undo me, I started to pray. I know that God is not surprised by any of this yet He lets me whine and moan without condemnation. I prayed for Him to post sentries at the corners of our home and cover us with His protection. Then I returned to the words of the 23rd Psalm—words that have often comforted me in the last months:

Even when I walk

through the darkest valley,

I will not be afraid,

for you are close beside me.

Your rod and your staff

protect and comfort me.

I thought about the rod and staff. Why were they mentioned and what were they used for? As I pondered, I realized the rod was used defensively to protect the sheep from robbers or wild animals. The staff, on the other hand, was used to hook the foot of a stray before it tumbled into trouble. The quiet assurance that my Shepherd is there to catch me either way blurred the sharp edges of my worry and I fell asleep. I was safe in the shadow of His wings. I still have that doctor’s appointment this week but I cling to Him for the outcome. No matter what, I am secure in His hands.