About three weeks ago severe tornadoes ripped through parts of south-central United States. Instead of watching the events unfold from the safety of my family room in Michigan, I found myself sitting in a hotel room in Kentucky, watching The Weather Channel, and wondering if I was in any of the counties that were in the path of the on-coming tornadoes. I didn’t have to wonder for very long, because the intercom in my room came to life with the announcement that tornadoes were on the ground and headed for us. All hotel guests were to immediately leave their rooms and take the stairs to the designated tornado shelter. I obediently grabbed my purse, my Bible and my makeup – all the essentials. Okay, maybe the makeup wasn’t exactly an essential, but I wanted to be sure that I looked good if I was interviewed on TV. (Don’t even try to understand how my twisted mind works.)
I must admit that the trip down the stair well was filled with fear and uncertainty. However when I reached the tornado shelter, I felt much safer and certainly more secure. It was a refuge – a place to run in time of trouble. I immediately began praying about the situation and had the idea to send a text message to everyone on my phone to pray for safety for the people of Kentucky and Ohio. One of my friends sent a message back asking if I was leading a prayer meeting in the shelter. I told her I would have been happy to, but people were too busy drinking the free alcohol the hotel supplied. My fellow shelter-mates were determined to die “happy” if they were going to go. I must admit, it made me feel sad that they found their hope in a way that actually was no hope at all. Fortunately, the tornadoes went around us so we were not touched, but many others lost homes, precious possessions and even their lives. By the time I was scheduled to speak that night the sun was shining as if nothing had happened at all…..until you looked at the devastation . In some places it was a whole new landscape. Residents would have to start from scratch.
Most of us will not experience that force of nature called a tornado, but we do face other “tornadoes” in our lives – financial tornadoes, medical tornadoes, relational tornadoes, employment tornadoes, marriage tornadoes, extended family tornadoes, and the last “big storm,” death. These storms can strike our lives quickly, without warning and leave us feeling overwhelmed physically, emotionally or spiritually. The “force of the winds” strips away our foundations and leaves us feeling vulnerable and stunned. Security and hope are replaced with fear and anxiety. The future is unsure at best and we are not at all confident that we can cope with the new reality. The world as we know it has been altered by a force beyond our control. The new “landscape” of our future can look bleak and totally unfamiliar. What do we do? How can we go on?
Too often we “stand out in the rain” and yell at God for doing this to us. Or like the people in the hotel, we look to other people, substances, or activities to make us feel better. None of these have the power to protect us, but there is One who can. As the “storms of life” approach, and certainly in the midst of them, we need to seek shelter. Listen to these beautiful words of Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Dear friend, run as fast as you can into the loving, strong arms of your Abba (makeup is not required here). Nestle yourself in the shadow of His wings; rest in His almighty love and power as the storms rage around you. He is your refuge, your strength, your rock, your solid ground, your mighty fortress. Whatever you need HE IS!
Begin claiming the words of the second verse of Psalm 46, “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.” Memorize these words. Live these words. Be strengthened and comforted by these words. There is no storm that is greater than God’s ability to protect and care for us.
When the storms have blown themselves out, we can continue to not be afraid and to trust in God’s almighty power to guide us and provide for our every need. He longs to lavish good and perfect gifts on us. Whatever your new reality is after the storm, He will never leave you or forsake you and He promises that there is nothing that can separate you from His love. Storms will come, but God will always be there to shelter us. Be encouraged, my friend, and do not be afraid.