We have all heard of the fight or flight response. When faced with danger, some of us are more predisposed to fight it, and some of us are more wired to flee from it. On December 15, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Spiritually, it felt like fight or flight were the two response options at first. I could fight cancer by praying the healing scriptures and believing my mom’s body would be rid of cancer here on earth, or I could flee by turning it all over to God’s sovereignty and accepting the death sentence without putting up a fight.
Neither of those options seemed completely right, and with my precious mother’s life at stake, I didn’t want to get it wrong. I wanted my prayers–both in private and in her hearing–to be Christ-centered, God-glorifying, supportive, and true. How was I to pray? Proverbs 3:17 tells us that all wisdom’s paths are peace, so I knew there had to be a peaceful way to pray and walk with my mother through her cancer diagnosis. Asking the Lord to show me, a third way–neither fight nor flight–opened up: The Secret Place. Psalm 91 says, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” I didn’t have to know whether I should fight or flee–I could simply dwell. I could hide under the Lord’s wings, and He would cover me with His feathers. I could run to Him as often as necessary, so I did.
My parents and siblings traveled from Missouri to Virginia (where my husband, three children, and I live) for Christmas. I ran to the Secret Place as I saw the weakness of Mom’s body and the pain she endured. In the Secret Place, the burdens of my heart would be lifted enough for me to carry on doing what my family needed me to do. On January 18, we learned that Mom’s cancer was beyond medical treatment. The next day, my children and I boarded a plane and flew to Missouri, where we would be able to spend Mom’s final days together as a family. I ran to the Secret Place more and more often; I would run to the Lord, overwhelmed with grief and horror, and emerge from the Secret Place renewed enough to keep washing the dishes, keep singing, keep folding the laundry, keep reading books to my children, keep feeding my mom ice chips.
Right there in the presence of cancer, our Good Shepherd prepared a table for us. As the needs and pressures grew more intense on my family, we could sit down at the Lord’s table any time, find rest in His pasture, have our heads anointed with the oil of His Holy Spirit. Our pain and sorrow were not removed, but the wisdom we were granted from on high was that we need not face the decisions and disappointments in fight or flight mode; we could face each hour by running to the Secret Place. On January 30, my mom entered for eternity into the joy of the Lord. As I desired to walk wisely next to her during cancer, I desire now to walk wisely the path of grief. My trips into the Secret Place are all the more frequent. I have to be in the Secret Place of the Most High before I can even get out of bed.
Fight or flight are the options of someone who is backed into a corner, but, Believer, you are never backed into a corner. Whether the concern is your health or the health of your loved one or your marriage or your money or your children, you can take that concern into the Secret Place and find there what is needed for you to walk in wisdom–to walk peacefully–the next hour, and the next, and the next.
By McKinzie (Newman) Crews