How scared do you get when you’ve got a medical procedure – like a colonoscopy – coming up? For one of my colonoscopies, a nurse to taught me how to shield that specific, modern-day fear… by using God’s wings, as described in Scripture.
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”
Psalm 91:4 (NIV)
Sheer Misery and Sheer Fear
My mom died of colon cancer, so I’m considered “high risk.” At 58 myself, I’ve had 4 colonoscopies already, with one polyp removed. I’ll just say it (without the sh*tty details): the 24-hour prep is sheer misery.
Then, every time, in the waiting room at the hospital the morning of the procedure, I can’t see straight, because I’m literally empty of any remnants of food or hydration.
After the IV is in, pumping fluid into my veins, at least the parched sensation subsides. But I’m still starving, plus I’m exhausted from using the toilet all night. This is when all my fearful questions roar louder inside my head than my stomach growls inside my belly:
“Will the doc be able to see everything?”
“What will they find?”
“Will I wake up to bad news like my mom?”
“Will I wake up?”
“I know it’s a safe procedure, and I trust my doc 100%… but still…”
Wait, Did She Say “Swan’s Wing”?
When I woke up from my first colonoscopy, groggy and confused, I remembered something. I remembered the moment when the nurse told me the sedative was going to travel through my IV and into my system. And then I recalled the brief moments that followed: There was a physically uncontrollable release of all those fear-filled questions as the sedative took over and I fell asleep.
I gratefully tucked that memory into my memory banks. I called on it during the predictably miserable prep for my second colonoscopy.
But that memory didn’t help. I was still mighty miserable. And mighty scared. Again.
I thought, “Am I going to be scared every time?
Lying on my side for that second colonoscopy, moments before the sedative traveled through my IV, the nurse asked me a question with unexpected imagery: “Coco, are you ready for me to tuck you under your blanket, like under a swan’s wing?”
Now, I had been a childhood ballerina, and I’ve always identified with the beauty, strength, and nurturing nature of swans. So, this image calmed me right away. Even before I felt the uncontrollable sedation overtake me, I was able to let my fearful questions drift away…
and let the thin, white hospital blanket with the tiny blue stripes transform into strong, white, swan wings with thick white feathers, and just… let… let…
… let myself peacefully awaken to the nurse’s reassuring motions around my bed as she welcomed me back.
Wait, Did She Actually Mean “God’s Wings”?
Waking up this time, I remembered something different, something more nuanced. I recalled the fact that the nurse suggested tucking under a swan’s wing before the sedative entered my body to take physical control of it.
This was an important sequence for me to acknowledge because, well, I’ll admit to you now, I’m a recovering control freak. If you, too, are anywhere near that place of needing to always feel in control, you know the misery of feeling “under the influence” – even in a relatively safe medical procedure.
That’s the thing, though: During a medical procedure, something on the outside, in this case, the sedative, controls how awake or asleep you are. And that adds a whole additional layer of fear to an already fearful place.
So, that nurse – who, in hindsight, may have been paraphrasing Scripture on purpose, God bless her soul – did a remarkably powerful thing for me. She gave me a way to feel in control before I felt the lack of control from the sedative.
Yet, here’s the truly mind-boggling part:
My moment of “feeling in control,” when I accepted the cover of “swan’s wings,” was actually THE moment of sweet surrender to God’s faithfulness – and He used His wings to shield me from my fears.
AND, God’s Wings Shield the Need to Control Fear
The nurses for my third and fourth times were kind, if less poetic.
So, the third time, before the sedative entered my IV, on my own, I untucked from my memory banks that nurse-poet’s swan wing imagery. And it soothed me.
Then, the fourth time, I got smart – in truth, I got faithful – and called upon those swan wings earlier, during the miserable prep. I felt God’s beautiful, strong, and nurturing wings cover me as my body emptied out. I surrendered under those wings early on in the process.
The psalmist of Psalm 91:4 (NIV) teaches us that God’s wings are actually His faithfulness. You can trust Him to use His “feathers” to shield you from your fears. And because of that trust, you no longer need to control your fears.
For me that fourth time, I felt relaxed in the waiting room. Lying on the table, the fear-filled questions never came. Without the fears, there was no need to control them. Because they didn’t exist.
I had been faithfully shielded. And you can be, too.
- What’s a scary situation for you? Can you imagine, in the middle of the fear, tucking under the beautiful, strong, and nurturing wings of a swan?
- How can you transform those swan wings into God’s wings, which He uses to shield you from fear? Can you ask Him how?
- And where do you fall on the “control freak” spectrum? Are you “recovering,” like me? Pretty “laissez-faire”? Or “still tightly controlled”?
- When might you ask God to shield you with His wings before a situation even happens? AND allow His faithfulness to doubly shield you – from both fear itself AND the need to control it?
Want to cover yourself in a soothing multi-sensory, narrated, and slightly shorter version of this storytelling devotional – that concludes with “shielding” you with a prayer – please click the photo below to experience the episode entitled “How God’s Wings Shield Me From Colonoscopy Fears | Psalm 91:4” on my YouTube channel, which also called “GraceBod”!