One of the hallmarks of Kansas weather is storms. And not just your run of the mill thunderstorms. I’m talking monster tornado-spinning storms with hail like softballs and 80 mile per hour winds. In May, June, July-ish, any storm has the capability of becoming something terrifying. So that’s why many homes around here are built with basements. Because during a tornado, the basement is the safest place to be. Tornadoes pretty much wipe out everything on ground level, which is why mobile homes are so dangerous. But honestly, if you get a really strong tornado, it will destroy everything in its path. You can’t stop it, so you just have to get somewhere safe until it blows over.
Life has storms like that too, in a figurative sense. There are circumstances and situations in life that you can’t control, and the best option is just to hunker down somewhere safe and wait until the storm is over before you raise your head again.
Everyone needs a safe place, a refuge. And those places look different to different people. For some it’s in the companionship of a friend. For others, it’s a more public place. For me, it’s my home. My home, my office especially, isn’t the safest place during a Kansas storm because it’s on the second level, but during the storms of life, there’s no where else I’d rather be.
But what about the times when the storms you’re facing are too big to escape? What happens when circumstances and situations in your life have isolated you to the point where you can’t reach a place of refuge? It happens. I think it happens more often than we are willing to admit.
Well, for those points in our walk with Christ, we have Psalm 59:16.
But as for me, I will sing about your power.
Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.
For you have been my refuge,
a place of safety when I am in distress.
This is one of David’s Psalms written while people were trying to kill him. He had nowhere to run. He had no safe place to be. He just had to keep moving and keep hiding and keep hoping that some day it would stop. But if you read the story of David on the run, you’ll notice that he doesn’t ever really stop and feel sorry for himself. He keeps moving. He keeps busy and active and focused on what he knew to be true — that God was in control and God would eventually work everything out. And when the really hard days came, David took refuge in God.
So how do we do that? Well, what makes a refuge safe? What allows us to feel safe in our refuges?
The answer is trust.
I trust that my storm shelter is going to protect me from a tornado. I trust that my house is a safe place for me to relax and be myself. Those of you who find refuge in friendships, you trust your friends. A refuge is a place you trust that will keep you safe and protect you from the distress of a storm in your life.
Trust is a tricky thing, though, because trust has to be earned. And if it’s ever lost, it’s hard to earn it back again. So maybe we don’t trust God because we feel like He let us down.
But did He really?
It’s inconvenient to go to my storm shelter. There are bugs. And it’s dark. But when the weather man says a storm is coming, he tells me to go there.
In our lives, God knows when trouble is coming. He knows the big picture, the big story, the whole thing from beginning to end. What would make you trust Him more? Would you trust Him more if He allows the trouble to come into your life without helping you prepare for it?
No. If He allowed difficult circumstances into our lives without helping us get ready first, then that would be reason to mistrust Him. But He doesn’t do that. He gives us only so much that we can handle with His help to start out with, and then when the real trouble comes, we’re ready.
He pushes us. He challenges us to grow and get stronger. Yes, a refuge is a place to hide. But you can’t stay there forever. Notice that David says that God has been his refuge. Not that God is or that God was. Has been. It indicates that he’s not hiding anymore.
A refuge is a safe place, but it should also be a place where you recharge your batteries so you can go back out into the fray and face life with fresh energy.
I trust God. I have for a long time, and I can say that He’s never let me down. He challenges me daily, though, and challenges aren’t easy. But they’re necessary if I want to keep growing. And on the days where I just need to be, He’s there. He understands. He’s always ready to comfort and heal and help when life has overwhelmed me. But He loves me too much and has too many plans for me to let me stay there.