Our home sits on a knoll in the middle of a 28-acre pasture. While it is nestled in a valley with hills surrounding it, the winds at times are really strong—such that they took the fans’ blades off the front porch not long after we built the house. When severe storms threaten, I begin preparing to withdraw to our place of safety. Our home is a one story with a room off the back on a lower elevation. Under the staircase leading up to the bonus room is our “safe spot.” I have gathered blankets, pillows, old motorcycle helmets, and other key items to have on hand should they be needed. Thankfully, to date, we have been protected from the high winds that damaged bordering trees and neighboring outbuildings, but we remain prepared.
Life’s storms often come without warning, though, and unless we are prepared, we will be caught off guard. How do we prepare for such storms? Certainly not by living in fear or constant apprehension. We prepare for them by learning to abide in God’s presence day by day through prayer, meditating on truths from His Word, and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In so doing, we keep ourselves under His protective covering and find refuge when storms arise unexpectedly. Does that mean nothing painful will ever touch us? No. But it does mean that in whatever we encounter, He covers us with His love and grace and will see us through it.
Twenty-nine years ago this week I underwent surgery for Stage 1 breast cancer. Just prior to discovery of the suspicious tumor, I had written these words in my journal:
“Fear keeps us in the past.
Faith enables us to live in the present.
Hope causes us to look with joy and peace to the future.”
Little did I know when I wrote those words that they would be the motto for my recovery. Having recently been through a devastating burnout experience, I had come face-to-face with the reality of my own mortality as well as the reality of God’s ever-present love, mercy, and all-sufficient grace. Through this painful but life-changing experience, I was better prepared when the cancer “storm” appeared unexpectedly. In the days and weeks that followed, I was lifted up in prayer and experienced the covering of His gracious wings throughout the surgeries, treatment, and recovery. My refuge became a time of quiet reflection and continuing to wait on Him in faith and trust, while experiencing joy and peace rather than doom and gloom!
In recent months, I have experienced the death of my mother, some very challenging skin-related issues, and a bout with Covid! Once again, God’s all-sufficient grace and comfort kept me under His wings and gave me the refuge I needed to see me through those storms. And with each sheltering came a greater knowledge of His ever-present faithfulness and compassion, available to all who will come to Him through Jesus Christ.
My daughter, Diona, gave me a beautiful wall plaque for Christmas with an oversized feather and the words “Find Refuge.” A wonderful reminder to stay in His presence and find refuge “under His wings.”