Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Your Safe Place!

Dear Friends,

Heavy rain pounds the roof. Lightning strikes are hitting the ridge on the hills just a half mile away and my wood-frame house shakes and shudders with each resounding percussive blast of thunder. Now the lightning and thunder occur at the same moment. It’s directly overhead and so violent I wonder if my windows will shatter. 

My three cats have gathered together under my bed. They’ve set aside their petty territorial battles over litter boxes and the ownership of catnip-filled “mice” and they now huddle together in safety. There’s a direct lightning strike a half block away and the sound of an explosion. It feels like a giant fist is pounding the house with each thunderclap. But the three lads have found a safe place under the bed – a place where the fiercest, scariest storms cannot reach them. A few minutes before, the first explosive thunderclap had sent them frantically tearing around the house in a panic, but now in the sanctuary beneath the bed, all three are calming down as they stretch out to relax and wait out the storm.

We saw last week that one of the secrets to successfully negotiating this journey we call “life” is to expect the unexpected. To expect to be lost. Expect to encounter hardship and tribulation. The storms of life, like our recent winter storms, are guaranteed to happen. Expect them. Prepare for them. For the winter storms, you may need tarps or sand bags. For the storms of life, you need God. 

Where do you go when the storms of life hit? When you’re experiencing anxiety, uncertainty and fear that may seem overwhelming at times? When it seems like all hell is breaking loose in your personal world and misfortune or 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 had a church list of nearly two hundred songs so I thought everyone’s personal list would be completely different. I was surprised to see that the majority of those in our congregation had named “HERE IN THE SHADOW” as their top favorite. If you never went to our church, you’ve probably not heard this song. It was written by a songwriter-worship leader, Shannon Wexelberg, 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 had become one of the most beloved songs in our church because it so well describes our own sanctuary during the storms of life.

In the Old Testament, we read that 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."

When the storms of life will hit, we need to run to our own safe place. We may not fit under the bed, but we fit under the shadow of His wings. “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him. For He will rescue you from every trap.. He will cover you with His feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection...” Psalm 91:1-6 NLT 

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.

Our Bible tells us that when we run to God, we will 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 hard life’s circumstances rain down upon us, it will pass. It’s guaranteed that we will encounter the storms of life. It is also guaranteed that they will come to an end. You have survived every misfortune in your life – perhaps some terrifying or heart-breaking ones. And no matter what circumstances and calamities you may encounter in 2023, God will provide shelter from your storms and He will also bring them to an end. In every storm I’ve ever been in, the rain eventually stopped. I’m thinking that’s true for you also.

Three hours after my house was battered by that morning thunderstorm, the skies were calm. The sun was shining through patches of white clouds and rain drops on the olive tree leaves sparkled in the sunlight. Sean was now contentedly chowing down his missed breakfast while Cody and Luke were arguing over a catnip mouse. The thunderstorm was over. All was well again. God is good.

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