“The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh…they shall stumble and fall . . . I believe I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” – Psalm 27
There’s this great five-year-old in my congregation who for months now has given the exact same answer to every question anybody’s asked during a children’s message.
“Children, do you know what baptism is for?” “Zombies!”
“Does anybody remember why we bury our alleluias during Lent?” “Zombies?”
“Can anybody tell me what this is I’m holding in my hand?” “Zombies.”
It’s become a fun inside joke in my congregation and we love him for it, but it does make me a little nervous about how Easter will go. “Kids, does anyone know what Jesus was after he rose from the dead?”
Presumably, the evildoers who wanted to devour the Psalmist’s flesh weren’t actually the walking dead. Those who have lived through serious interpersonal trauma, though, can probably relate. When you’ve been blindsided by someone you relied on, betrayed by someone you trusted, hurt by someone you loved, the effects can last a long time. It can leave you looking at everyone you meet as a potential attacker, wondering which of the people lurching around near you will be the next to launch themselves at your throat, teeth bared and chomping.
The only real solution is time spent in safety, where you can learn to trust again. (Well, that and maybe some therapy.) Here’s where God comes in for the Psalmist. In a world that feels like it could turn on you at any second (because it already has), God becomes a mighty fortress against the hordes, real or imagined, who want to eat your brains. God is the one, the only one guaranteed never to turn on you. Dwell there long enough, says the psalmist, and you can learn to see goodness in the land of the living again.
God, I trust you even more than I trust Rick Grimes. When the world goes nuts, be might light, my salvation, and my fortress.
Quinn G. Caldwell is the Pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, Syracuse, New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.