Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Storms Of Life

Dear Friends,

Heavy rain pounds the roof. Lightning strikes are hitting the ridge on the hills just a mile away and my wood-frame house shakes and shudders with each resounding percussive blast of thunder. This is Sean McDougal’s first thunderstorm and he’s terrified. Sean is my “rescue cat” (according to his version of the story, he rescued me) and he will be one year old in May. The thunderstorm is so close and fierce, it feels like a giant fist is pounding the house with each thunderclap. But Sean has found a safe place under the bed. A place where the fiercest, scariest storms cannot reach him. Where he has found both shelter and a heretofore misplaced catnip-filled toy. A few minutes before, the explosive thunder had sent him frantically tearing around the house in a panic, but now in the sanctuary beneath the bed, he is calm and he stretches out to relax and wait out the storm.

Where do you go when the storms of life hit? When it feels as if the Devil himself is throwing lightning bolts at you and you are being shaken by a giant fist? When it seems like all hell is breaking loose in your personal world and evil is raining down on you, where do you find your sanctuary?  Where is your safe place?

Several years ago, during a church service, everyone was given a blank 3x5 card and asked to write down their favorite praise and worship songs that we sing on Sunday. We have a list of nearly two hundred songs so I thought everyone’s list would be completely different. I  was surprised to see that so many people had named “HERE IN THE SHADOW” as their top favorite. If you don’t go to our church, you’ve probably never heard this song. It was written by a little-known songwriter/worship leader and released on one of her albums about ten years ago. HERE IN THE SHADOW is based on Psalm 17:6-8 and some of the lyrics are: Here in the shadow.. Here in the shadow of Your wings.. Here in the shadow.. I will rest here Father.. I won’t fear tomorrow.. I will rest here Father.. You are my peace. I shouldn’t have been surprised that this has become one of the most beloved songs in our church because it so well describes our own sanctuary during the storms of life.

Saul had loved David like a son, but when God rejected Saul and chose David to be the king, Saul flew into a jealous rage and vowed to kill David. Fleeing in fear of losing his life, David hid in a cave and wrote these words: “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to You for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of Your wings until the danger passes by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill His purpose for me. He will send help from heaven to rescue me, disgracing those who hound me. My God will send forth His unfailing love and faithfulness.” Psalm 57:1-3 NLT One translation says, “in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge until the ruinous storm passes by."

We may not have men tracking us down to kill us but our own storms can be just as intense and frightening. The loss of a loved one – a child, spouse or parent. A child or grandchild walking on a path to self-destruction. A doctor’s diagnosis of a devastating illness. Financial and legal difficulties. Depression. Loneliness. The storms of life will always be with us because we live in a fallen world. In John 16:33, Jesus promises that our peace is in Him and says, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” We can take heart and weather the worst of life’s storms in the shadow of God’s wings because that’s where we find the overcoming power of Jesus.

In 2002, a Category 5 hurricane struck Mexico generating 140 mph winds and dropping 16 inches of rain. Then it was over. In 1925, the world’s largest tornado hit Missouri, Illinois and Indiana with winds over 300 mph. Then it was over. In 1960, a 9.5 earthquake struck Chile. It was the largest earthquake ever recorded and shook the earth for ten minutes. Then it was over. The world’s worst disasters have always come to an end. Remember that your worst storms will always come to an end. 

In the storms of life, we run to God and find sanctuary in the shelter of His wings. Psalm 61:4 NLT He invites us to rest there trusting in Him and we know that no matter how bad the storm gets, it will pass. It’s been three hours since my house was battered by the morning thunderstorm and the skies are now calm. The sun is shining through patches of white clouds and rain drops on the olive tree leaves are sparkling in the sunlight. Sean McDougal is running through the house, leaping joyfully in the air and playing with a catnip mouse.The storm is over. All is well again. God is good.  AMEN?

1 comment:

  1. Psalm 61 is one of the first psalms I memorized. It comforts me every day!


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