Fight or Flight?

Written By: Chris Mace

Fight or Flight?
Fleeing Wood Ducks on the Taunton River, Sullivan, Maine

Perceiving a threat, these spooked wood ducks noisily retreated to a more isolated, protected area down the river.

Wired physically, physiologically, and emotionally to either flee or confront threats against bodily harm, we react similarly to difficult circumstances or to spiritual and emotional insults which might endanger our peace and joy or rob us of our personal integrity and self respect.

Although we can deny or acquiesce to dangers, intuition usually warns us that fighting or fleeing are our best options. Yet, we don’t always heed the warning. Our own efforts to deal with the fallout from our weaknesses, from our penchant to folly, and from moral failures often evolve into unhealthy coping skills: denial, coverups, blame shifting, anger, bad behaviors, anxiety, depression, addictions, despair, and even suicide.

We need discernment to deal with our flawed natures and strength for deliverance and restoration from our moral turpitude. The Psalmist found God to be his helper, his strength, and his secure, hiding place: “You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7) Thankfully, God is not an ancient metaphor. He is near and responds to His peoples’ needs (Psalm 34:18). King David discovered that: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from Thee? Everywhere I go You are with me…”(Psalm 139) The prophet Isaiah exclaimed, “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid, For the Lord God has become my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation”(Isaiah 12: 2).

This grand, God-deliverer theme is carried over into the New Testament in the person of Jesus, who was announced as “Emmanuel,” God with us. He is the visible Word of God, who shows and enables us how to be more than we can be in our own wisdom and power. (John 1;Colossians 1:15; Ephesians 3:20)

He is the Door to the green pastures and the still waters of abundant life (John 10: 9). He is the Vine from whom life flows to the branches. He empowers life and makes all things possible (John is 15:5).

He is the Way to God (John 14:6)(Romans 6:18). He is the Good Shepherd who sacrificed his life to deliver us securely from the devastating consequences of our sinful natures (John 10:11). He is the Light of the World, who delivers us from darkness and leads us into his marvelous light (John 8:12) (1 Peter 2:9). He is the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (1Peter 2:25), the Captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10).

He is the Bread of Life, who satisfies our souls’ deepest cravings. And he is the Living Water, who quenches the thirst of parched, shriveled, dying spirits and gives them new life. (John 6:35, 4:10) He is the great physician bringing healing to hurt, sick hearts (Mark 2:27) (Isaiah 53:4-5) (Matthew 8:17).

He is our relief, brings rest to the weary and heavy burdened, and delivers from anxious living (Matthew 11:28-30). 

He is our eternal hope. (John 11:25) Because of his grace, we can be forgiven, set free from the enslavement of sin, and delivered from condemnation and death John3:16;11:25-26;14:6) So, the question is: “If God is for us, who can stand against us?” (Romans 8:32) Even when we succumb to fears and temptations, Christ is our deliverer. Ada Habershon’s much loved hymn written in 1907 affirms that truth:

When I fear my faith will fail/ Christ will hold me fast
When the tempter would prevail/ He
willhold me fast
could never keep my hold/ Through life’sfearful path
For my love is often cold/ He must hold me

If all that is true, God’s goodness and providential care are the source of strength and confidence. Like the wood ducks, we have a safe place to flee to. God’s arms reach out, enfold us, and hold us fast when we are in spiritual danger.

Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD! I have fled to you for refuge.(Psalm 143:9)

(John 3:16; 6:37-40) (2Sam 2:22) (James 4:8) (Acts17:25-27) (Deuteronomy 33;27).


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