You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)
I discovered growing up that if my father learned of someone with a particular need, he would stand beside that person, extend his hand, and discreetly tuck cash into his or her palm. With little fanfare and fewer words, he measured out a practical dose of grace. The recipients always seemed relieved with the exchange, grateful that someone had been aware and had responded to the cry of their heart. Many years later, when I was in difficult place, my father handed me a priceless gift as well.
The helicopter pilot was preparing for takeoff, and I fixed my eyes on the paramedics loading our son’s gurney into the machine that would transport us three hundred miles from Miami to Gainesville, Florida. Without warning, the cardiologists decided to have James airlifted immediately to Shands Children’s Hospital since its cardiac team was his best option for a heart transplant. Our four-year-old saw the helicopter ride as a wonderful adventure; my heart was slamming into my chest with fear.
A few family members had managed to make it to Miami Children’s before takeoff. Right before I climbed inside the helicopter, my father hugged me and said, “I don’t want you to worry. James is going to be fine. Remember this verse: ‘You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.’”
In the way a drowning woman might cling to a life preserver, I gripped this promise and clutched each word. God, you are keeping us inside your peaceful presence, guarding us by your strong right hand. In the way a “keep” is the most secure location in the middle of a castle, you are hiding us, protecting us from all the things that can quickly go wrong.
I must play my part, and my mind must stay on you. Inside the safety of your keeping, I cannot allow my mind to dart about and entertain any thought of what might be or how this might all play out. As I trust you, you will keep me perfectly at peace. Because I know I can trust you, my mind is lingering inside the safety of your promise.
When the helicopter landed on the roof of the twelve-story building, when James was rolled through the labyrinth of corridors, when he was poked and probed and analyzed and prepared for surgery, I heard the verse repeating in my heart: I am keeping you. I am keeping James. I am giving you perfect peace precisely where you are now. Hang on. I am keeping you right here.
My father tucked life-giving Scripture into my heart. It lingers with me still. I am grateful.
Photo Credit: Aleksandr Ledogoro on Unsplash