During tornado season a siren sounds in my community on Thursday at 2 p.m.  The siren runs for a minute or so and everyone stops, even if unconsciously, to acknowledge the emergency system designed to alert us to the presence of a tornado. No one moves to a safe place on Thursday afternoons but any other time of day or night the response would be quite different. Any other time we would take refuge in the safety of our basements.

Some parts of our country are in danger of forest fires while others watch for hurricanes. I don’t know if you live in tornado alley, fire country or hurricane central but there are times in our natural lives when we make plans to hide. We move out of the way of tornadoes, fires and hurricanes. Sometimes to get out of internal chaos, we need to hide. Sometimes hiding is good and we would be foolish to not go to a safe place.

Psalm 91 is one of the places I go to hide when life is chaotic. Go here https://www.bible.com/bible/116/PSA.91.NLT to read the entire psalm. Here are the first two verses to get you started…

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.

Many days what I really need is rest. Rest from the chaos of my mind. So I slip into my place of safety.

Our world can be cruel. Life hits out of nowhere and even those closest don’t respond as expected. People whisper, fingers point, plots are devised. David wrote Psalm 31 for just a time like this. His enemies and his friends whispered about him and accused him of wrong doing. Rumors and plots against his life ran rampant. His response? He affirmed that God was his hiding place, his place of safety. He asked God to protect him but also to lead him out of the danger. He affirmed truth while acknowledging the difficult reality of his situation.

Sometimes there is trouble from outside and we need to take refuge. We lose jobs, homes, reputations, finances, friendships, health, loved ones. We need refuge from the storm of what others say or do. Stepping out of the chaos of loss, gossip, plotting or revenge is a lifesaver in the long term.

Sometimes trouble comes from within, from our minds. My mind gets the best of me at times. Fear, anxiety, worry are so automatic and seem so logical.

Fear was my master for many years. I feared staying alone, flying, tornadoes, sickness, death, new experiences, new places, rejection, invisibility, God, hell, the future … you name it, I feared it. For too many years my goal was to get through the day without a panic attack.  I never imagined there was healing. A place of safety.

But you know what? He taught me over time to take refuge in the shelter of his wings, he taught me that he is my safe place. He revealed to me that the problem wasn’t the situation I faced, but that I didn’t trust him. I didn’t believe he was who he said he was or that he would do what he said he would do. Do you? Do you believe he will never leave you or forsake you? Do you believe he has your life in his hands?  Do you believe you are chosen and loved?

Maybe your issues are different; maybe they are the same. But I bet they seem insurmountable. I don’t want to minimize the difficulty of changing our thoughts and taking refuge, of hiding in the presence of God. I know how easily I hang on to what makes sense in my human mind. But there is no peace or quietness in anxious, fearful, vengeful thinking. So regardless of your situation today, he is able to protect you and quiet the storm. I want you to stop for a minute right now and listen to the words that are running through your mind. If you are anxious/fearful/worried/plotting, are you rehearsing thoughts that increase or decrease a peaceful mind? Psalm 19:14 is a prayer that the words of our mouths and the meditations of our heart would be pleasing to him. What/who do your words and thoughts glorify? Philippians 4:6-8 remind us not to worry, rather pray about everything with thanks for all God has done and will do. And then to fix our minds on all that is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise. Only then will the peace of God be with us. Measure your thoughts against this plumb line. My anxious/fearful/vengeful thinking cannot coexist with the peace God provides – the peace that is beyond my understanding. One has to go. I get to choose and so do you!

Are you tired of the chaos of mental anguish whether it comes from inside or outside? Let’s put our imaginations to good use. Enough time has been spent imagining what could go wrong or plotting revenge. Allow God to work out the details of your present situation while you take refuge in him.

If he can teach me to take refuge, he can teach you too! The siren is blaring so run for shelter, friend! He’s waiting!

Until next time…

May the Lord bless you and protect you.

May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.

                                                                Numbers 6:24-26

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