From the Storm and Rain

In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel.  Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; He will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire. Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.

—Isaiah 4:2-6

The Nearness of God

With a matter of extreme concern on my heart tonight, I went to the kitchen to eat a very late dinner. Right before opening a cupboard door, I prayed about the situation. Within seconds, I realized that there was a song playing in my mind. I paused to consider what it was. The lyrics began to reach my focus. The song was an old hymn–“Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”

As I sat down on the couch, I looked up the lyrics online. Here are a few of the words:

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,Leaning on the everlasting arms;

I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.

I believe that God led me to read the words of the song to comfort me and encourage me not to be afraid.

I am not to be afraid because I have Jesus.

My Lord is near.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.

—Psalm 73:28



I Would Fly

Oh, for wings like a dove, to fly away and rest!  I would fly to the far-off deserts and stay there.  I would flee to some refuge from all this storm.

—Psalm 55:6-8

 

God is our refuge.

He protects us from the storm of sin.

He gives us new life and a new beginning.

 

Iwould

He Knows

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The storm was coming.

An advisory had been issued by the weather service.

Not far from my neighborhood, there is a place where I can look out and see a nearby lake just beyond the trees and houses.

It was the perfect place to watch the dark clouds as they approached.

When the rain finally arrived, I had to enjoy the scene from inside my car.

If I hadn’t had any shelter–such as my car–I wouldn’t have been enjoying the scene at all.

I would’ve been sopping wet, exposed to wind and lightning and the dangers that come with them.

There are times in our lives when we can see the storms coming.

These storms have names of their own.

Illness.

Divorce.

Abandonment.

Grief.

These are just some of the storms that can come our way.

Do we have to just stand there, without any shelter at all when they appear?

Thankfully, we don’t.

God is our shelter.

Nahum 1:7 reads,

The LORD is good,
    a stronghold in the day of trouble;
He knows those who take refuge in Him.

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When troubles come, God will be our stronghold.

He knows who is trusting in Him.

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stronghold

In Times of Trouble

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The dinner party at a friend’s house was going to start in about half an hour.

I knew I had plenty of time to make it, though.

Deciding to take a more scenic route to their community, I drove through rural areas instead of the busy highway.

Not long into the trip, I began to notice the clouds.

A storm was coming and it looked like it could be quite severe.

Being fascinated by the steel blue sky, I looked for a place to stop the car.

I wanted to photograph the heavy blanket of water that was slowly overtaking the horizon.

The dirt road led to a place I had not traveled before.

There was no immediate shelter that I could see nearby.

I wasn’t worried—I had my car to sit in if the storm began to rage around me.

After a few shots, I put my camera down and continued on to the party.

What would have been different if I had been walking alone on that road when the storm hit?

Choosing a tree as an option, I might’ve gotten underneath it.

I wouldn’t have felt safe from the lightning, though—-lightning strikes trees.

I’m really not sure what I would’ve done to ensure my safety in that situation.

There are so many people in the world who realize their lack of shelter.

They can’t think of any real protection if things actually did get bad.

Physical protection.

Emotional protection.

Spiritual protection.

They know they need it, but they don’t know how to have it.

When “storms” happen in their lives, they find themselves alone on a dirt road with a dark, threatening sky and no where to turn.

No shelter.

No car.

No house.

It doesn’t have to be that way, however.

God is a ready and willing refuge for us.

When the skies are dark, do we have the confidence to think, “I’ll be fine. I will just take shelter with God”?

When we look back on the last tempest we encountered, could we say, “I wasn’t worried—I knew I had my Father’s lap to sit in if the storm began to rage around me”?

It is good to remember these words of encouragement in the Old Testament book of Nahum:

The LORD is good,
    a refuge in times of trouble.

–from chapter 1, verse 7

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refuge correct

Trust

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Trust.

We can trust in the Lord always.

We can trust Him in all ways.

What does trust mean to you?

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The Lord reigns forever;
    he has established his throne for judgment.
He rules the world in righteousness
    and judges the peoples with equity.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
    a stronghold in times of trouble.
 Those who know your name trust in you,
    for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

—Psalm 9:7-10

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trust ancient

With His Feathers

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As I was walking, I noticed the white feather on the ground.

Looking at my photograph now, I see water droplets adorning it like spheres of ice on a snowy meadow.

Feathers intrigue me.

Perfect in form and perfect for the animals who possess them.

The psalmist speaks of God protecting us:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

 Surely He will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
 He will cover you with His feathers,
    and under His wings you will find refuge;
    His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

—Psalm 91:1-4

I don’t remember ever having thought of this before, but tonight, “Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare” stood out to to me.

A fowler is someone who hunts for wild birds.

A snare is something they would use in order to catch them.

So, it is saying that God will save us from whatever the bird catcher is coming after us with.

The very next sentence says, “He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge;”

I understand that this is metaphorical, but I don’t remember ever thinking about myself as a bird that was being hunted and that God, who is being pictured as having feathers and wings like a bird, is protecting me.

The divinely strong feathers and wings of my heavenly Father will protect my weak and spindly feathers and wings as I take refuge in Him.

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feathers

Wait in Silence

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For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
 He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
 On God rests my salvation and my glory;
    my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Psalm 62:5-7

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Ever-Present Help

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It was a day to relax, mostly.

Reclining on the beach with friends, I looked out toward the water.

There was peace.

The steady, yet calm roar of the waves never ceased.

Predictable…..

Consistent…..

Then, I saw it!

What was that?

My friends hadn’t noticed, but I peered more closely toward the water.

Something jumped a couple of feet above the sand and flopped back down.

It did it again!

Could a jellyfish do that?

Ever curious, I got out of my luxury lawn chair, complete with a built in neck pillow, cup holder and supply bag and started walking toward the object in question.

As I grew closer, I realized what it was.

A TREE FROG!

He had his arms tucked under him as he sat still in my presence.

Along with sunglasses and sunscreen, I had decided to bring my camera to the beach.

It was time to take a few photos before embarking on the task of getting the little creature back to a more hospitable environment.

One of my friends had a ball cap on, which came in very handy when trying to catch a hopping frog.

When she had him secured, she walked to the nearest area of palm trees and other foliage to let him go.

The adventure complete, we settled back into our chairs, basking in the sun and the mist of the sea.

Still, I couldn’t help but wonder….how did that frog get to the beach?

After some thought, I decided that he could have hopped into someone’s fishing supplies.

Maybe in a garage miles away, an unsuspecting sportsman picked up a bucket or bag, placed it into their truck and transported it with the tiny, green stowaway on board.

How he got there was not really the important thing, however.

Getting him back to a safe place was.

 

People do this all the time, you know.

Surroundings look interesting and relatively safe, like a bag or bucket with fisherman’s gear.

We crawl in, feeling quite accomplished.

Before we know it, we decide it’s time to hop out, but when we do, things have changed.

Tall, leafy trees and damp, green grass have been replaced by salt water and burning hot sand as far as the eye can see.

In a panic, we jump high into the air, not realizing that doing so alerts predators to our presence in an unforgiving and hostile place.

Even so, God is watching.

He knows where we are when we ourselves do not.

He knows the danger when we venture into the bag.

He watches us as we are filled with fear when we see where our decisions have taken us.

He knows we can’t live in the salty waves.

When we hop frantically on the shore, He can pick us up and take us to a place—

a safe place we can call home.

 

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
 though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

—Psalm 146:1-3

 

 

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