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“O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Truly I would flee far away; I would lodge in the wilderness.” Psalm 55:6
Forrest Gump fans will remember the moving scene where little Jenny flees from her abusive father and hides in a corn field with Forrest. She kneels down and says “Pray with me Forrest! Pray with me!! God, make me a bird so I can fly far, far away from here. God make me a bird so I can fly far, far away from here.”
Turns out a psalm may be the inspiration for that little prayer.
David never hesitated to pour out his complaints and voice his fears. In fact, “Laments” constitute an entire category of the Psalms, and David is the author of most of them. Psalm 55 is a long grumble about the treachery of former friends and allies. David is hurt but also genuinely afraid. Words and phrases like “fear and trembling,” “distraught,” “anguish,” even “horror” pepper the stanzas. You also find a heavy dose of vindictive vitriol.
Crushed and overwhelmed, he wrote “O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Truly I would flee far away; I would lodge in the wilderness.”
Turns out this desire is pretty common. My mother used to say, “stop the world, I want to get off!” That was the name of a Broadway production from the early 60’s, but I don’t know if that was her source. Stress and pressure often produce a desire to escape.
Psychologists creatively call it escapism. A little is fine, of course. Give me a rainy day and a good book, and I’ll check out for a while. Too much escapism leads to avoidance. We live in an age with a truly awful combination of our naturally endless capacity for distraction and an avalanche of distractors. We’re a Candy Crush generation (or football, or porn, or Facebook, etc.), and that can’t be good for the soul.
What are you avoiding right now? What’s the stress that makes you want to grow wings and fly far, far away? Go ahead and name it. Now take it to God in prayer.
Psalm 55 is a good model for you. David named his fear and called upon God “evening and morning and noon” (v. 17). The result? David voiced a renewed faith. “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you.” (v. 22). He ended with a final resolve “But I will trust in You” (v. 23).
The world is not going to stop because we find it unpleasant. Nor will we grow wings to fly away. Fly away to where? God has a better way, and His focus is always on the deepest need of our souls. He’s with every Jenny in every cornfield, just as He was with David every painful and joyful step of the way. He is there with you. Have faith, trust Him, and give Him your burden. He will give you enough grace to face today.
Dr. Terry Ellis
October 29, 2018