“Hurry! It’s coming. Get to a safe place,” I screeched with concern for the souls in front of me.
A tornado was twisting its way toward us.
I felt a familiar intimidation by the storm’s approach. Stomach churning and mind racing, I’d been scared by tornadoes before. But unlike past experiences, words were not at a loss this time.
In times past, my verbal warning wouldn’t go beyond Tttttttttt. Ornado simply wouldn’t flow.
I was tongue-tied in the midst of impending danger.
Held hostage by fear.
But not this time.
Fear no longer held its wrestling-style grip on me.
There, with danger in full view, I was able to megaphone the words of warning. A whole group of souls had heard.
The crowd of people morphed from their position of complacency to one of compliance, moving from the wide bellows of the hallway. I felt a sense of relief. They were going to be safe.
But that was short-lived.
They had maneuvered into the gymnasium, an even more dangerous place to perch when facing an impending twister. The wide expanse of space, the heavy, powerful beams, and the high ceiling all lent themselves to destruction when rotated by a tornado. The crowd could be hurt or killed simply because of the place they ran to.
Like Adam and Eve grasping for their own covering, these folks had taken a similar approach. They ran to the safety of a place of their choosing, not God’s.
We all face storms in life, and have a choice in the midst of the trial. The place we run to will either be a refuge of safety or a harbor for harm.
These were familiar people, church people. I knew their faces personally, male and female, blue eyes and brown, grey hairs and chestnut alike. I sat beside them on Sunday pews in our small, country sanctuary. We sang choruses to God, side-by-side, enjoyed Sunday potlucks as well.
Concern refused to beam from their eyes. A glow of satisfaction covered their faces, complimented with a smile. Wide-eyed and pleased with their obedience, their demeanor expressed that life was good.
It was odd.
What? What are they doing? Don’t they know this is dangerous? They will be destroyed.
They stood and stared. The crowd gathered much like a herd of cattle, watching the farmer arriving with the night’s dinner. In their world, with their choice, all was okay.
But it wasn’t.
Their choice of covering, the gym, was not a safe place. These go-to-church-every-Sunday folks were grouped happily in the middle of a place that could be their undoing.
It was a dream from years ago, but I believe there’s a warning in its mix.
When life’s storms approach,
where do I run?
I have asked myself this question, and I pose it to you today as well.
When someone hurts your feelings or jealousy rears once again, where do you run? The refuge of safety of the Lord or the harbor of our harmful emotions?
Magazines, television, Facebook, and friends often tell us we’re the victim, that we’re innocent, and that we deserve to feel “that” way.
And we agree.
Yes, I do! I was wronged. It’s not fair.
But maturity doesn’t comply. Maturity warrants a different nod. It’s the path to the refuge and strength of the Lord, promising more than ” I deserve” could ever serve.
Because, like Adam and Eve, we all truly deserve something worse. But when we tire of hiding, finding refuge in the gymnasium of emotions, God faithfully awaits.
“But the LORD God called to the man,
“Where are you?”
Gen. 3:9 NIV
In His patience, He waits. In His love, He calls.
Oh, my sweet friend, I know how easy it is to run into the gymnasium’s expanse of withholding forgiveness, of gossiping. The storms hit. They hurt. I know how easy it is to run to the Adam and Eve covering of my knee-jerk, I’ve-been-hurt, emotional choice. I’ve paid many a visit, myself. Gossip, jealousy, discouragement, offense…they’ve all seen my face.
Even as an every-Sunday-in-the pews Christian.
But God has something better. A storm shelter that is certain, always reliable. And, it’s not the gym. It’s Him.
Maturity runs to His awaiting refuge, His love, His forgiveness. It refuses the notion that “I deserve this.” Trust baths the situation in prayer and praise, thanksgiving and petition. It calls an accountability partner and says, “I need help. Will you pray for me?” It casts its anxiety, in its multitude of forms, on the Lord.
So that storm that’s brewing? There’s a faithful shelter in which to land.
Which will you choose?
The gymnasium of emotions or the rock-solid faithfulness of His refuge and strength?
I come to You today in praise. Thank You for being a faithful refuge, thank You for surrounding me with Your strength. Forgive me, Lord, for those times past when I’ve relied on my own strength, my own emotions. Teach me, Lord, how to run to You when the storms loom and when they hit. Teach me, Lord, how to walk in spiritual maturity. I’ll give You the praise. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Linking up with Crystal at Intentionally Pursuing, Kelly at Purposeful Faith,
Holly Barrett, and Jennifer Dukes Lee,
Holly Barrett, and Jennifer Dukes Lee,