Thursday, May 26, 2011

Do you know a safe place?

Living in Missouri is a little scary this time of year. Tornado alley as it is called. Tornadoes have been all around us. First, my prayers are at heaven's doors for all those effected by these devastating monsters that come out of no where and attack randomly. Neighborhoods destroyed. Families being uprooted. Once a tornado has come through and wreaked havoc, where and how do you begin again?

Some of us are living as though a tornado has touched down in our hearts. Our lives are surrounded by debris as we try to pick up the pieces. Shattered lives. Shaky ground. Unsteady weather. What do you do? Where do you go?

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore I will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Through its waters roar and be troubled, through the mountains shake with its swelling. There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn." Psalm 46:1-5

We have been glued to the television as of late. Watching the weather has become something of normal. When you see the breaking news and the weather man before you, you begin to wonder, "Are we next?" You hear the statement, "Head for safety." Where is that safe place for you? Sometimes it feels as though there is no safe place. Many times we feel as though the winds are whipping from every view. We want to run, but which direction do we go?

"For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings." Psalm 61:3-4

We become fearful. We begin to wonder, "Is there a safe place for me?" Our lives can be uprooted in the matter of minutes. We can try to cover and protect ourselves, but as we open our eyes all we see around us is what was once there is now gone. We scream out, "Why?" Sometimes we just don't know why and I think that is what really hurts. If we knew the reasoning behind the hurt we could handle it. We could work to clean it up. But when we simply don't know, what do you?

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalm 47:10

Before a tornado hits the sirens go off. Sometimes you have time to find safety. Just like in our lives, don't we always hear sirens go off? We just simply don't hear them because we are wanting to see the sunshine before us. We ignore the sirens and then it's as though a bomb has exploded in our lives. Sometimes the sirens are there warning us, but we ignore them, thinking everything is okay.

"But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you." 1 Peter 5:10

Life can just be hard. No matter how hard we try to be safe, there is a storm brewing overhead. Everything shatters and it feels as though you are walking on broken glass. There is no way for us to live without feeling some kind of pain. For me, I want to cover that pain up. I don't want to feel it at all anymore. I just want to bury myself in one of those shelters built to withstand any storm and not come out until Jesus is ready to call me home. Ever feel that way? Ever feel as though your just walking along on a sunny day, flowers are blooming and your taking in all the sights and sounds, enjoying each and every moment and then out of no where, your left standing and all around you is gone? What happened to that beauty you felt? What happened to that peace you were so thankful for? Sometimes it is as though we are Dorthy from Wizard of Oz and we are whipped into another place and time. All we want is to go home. All we want is for things to go back the way they were. It's like a tornado has come and not only destroyed what was good, but misplaced everything. Now your left looking for one blessing. Just one piece of something to make you feel whole again.

The only safe place I know is Jesus Christ.

C.S Lewis says, “God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.” Jesus is before the storm. He is in the storm and He too will be there when the storm passes. He can remove us from that storm approaching or He can choose to leave us there in the midst of the rain. If He removes us, we are always so thankful. Sometimes He chooses to allow that storm to reach us, for reasons we can't seem to fathom. But I am learning every storm and every wind that blows into my life has reason and purpose. Maybe it's to blow me in another direction or blow something entirely different in my direction. But I know, God's hand is in everything that touches my life. Whether I understand at that moment or not, I just have to trust Him. No where does it say that is easy. I think that is where our faith is built. It's where it is tested and we find that there is nothing that can separate us from that firm foundation of God's love.

The key is to be thankful for the storm also. That is hard. It's so hard to be thankful for something that we can't even understand yet. But we must remember, it's not about us. It's all about Him. There is so much in my life right now that I don't understand. Everything that I thought was grounded, is now uprooted and I am left with feelings I am not sure what do with. Feelings of anger and fear. I am trying to be thankful in all. I know Jesus sees beyond my vision. He sees past the past and into the healing. He sees restoration where I still see destruction. He is working behind the scenes in areas where I cannot see. So, I must remember to focus on Him and not the situation around me.

"And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:3-5

Just as after a storm a rainbow appears out of no where. In our lives if we take our eye off the center of the storm and place it on Jesus, He will give light to our situation. Think of a stained glass window. Broken glass. Little shards that you think could only cut. Separate they are only pieces of colored glass, not really having a place. Put them all together, intertwined with solder, something strong and permanent, and you have something to behold. You now have a masterpiece of beauty before you, that once only looked like broken glass. If God can bring beauty from ashes, He too can bring peace into your heart. Replacing the hurt and brokenness with a solid foundation of love.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

Just as in a tornado, in many situations in our life we have no control over how it all plays out. A tornado comes in and changes everything. There is no longer stable air. The pressure is heavy. Clouds are hanging low. We can't change others anymore than we change or control the weather. We can't change situations by simply wishing it was better. How do we bring about change? We begin within our own heart. We clean up our own heart of all the debris. We pick up piece by piece and open our hands, giving it all to Jesus. We get down on our knees and pray. We pray for change. We pray for seasons of grace. We pray for God's hand to lead us and in Him we can find the safety we are searching for when everything seems scattered. In the roaring sound of those blazing winds we can find peace in God that will bring a solace we are so in need of.
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