Finding Shelter Amid the Storm

“Run! Seek shelter!” was shouted with urgency.

 
The crowd gathered quickly and herded themselves automatically into the wide expanse of gymnasium. It was as if they didn’t think twice, but ran to the familiar set of walls they were accustomed to.
 
Underneath the choice of covering, they stood wide-eyed, knees knocking, yet assured that they had chosen wisely. In their eyes, they had protection from the storm. They rested in the familiar, although false, safety net of covering.
 
“No…..Don’t go there!  It’s a gymnasium. You’re not safe there! You’re putting your hope in the wrong place,” were the words I excitedly uttered in my dream, eyes darting back and forth from the gathered crowd of familiar faces to the the funnel cloud of impending danger. It was a full-blown tornado spinning its threat of intimidation, containing an imminent promise of certain chaos.
 
That’s where the dream ended.
 
Although the REM event occurred years ago, I can remember the concern that knotted within me at the time, watching in horror as the crowd gathered quickly in the gymnasium. It was horror because years of practice at elementary school in Ohio had taught me that large expanses of ceilings or roofs are a horrible place to be during a tornado. One rip and the whole expanse is suddenly opened. The shelter-seekers lie directly exposed to the chaos.  The likelihood of harm or even death jumps dramatically. Certainly, a gymnasium is a dangerous place to be during a tornado, whether it be in the natural or the spiritual.
 
Yet, that is where they stood, in the midst of the false security of the gymnasium.
 
I wonder…when the storm of evil is on our horizon, how many times do we run to a familiar covering for safety, to that place of comfort, experience, or  past knowledge, versus a place of true refuge? It might be the gymnasium of worry, anxiety, or yelling or the courts of anger, jealousy, judgement, or gossip. We might make a bee-line for the covering of self-hatred, self-condemnation, or gluttony, thinking they are our shelters from the storm when, in reality, they are the dangerous, large expanses of covering that will likely leave us wide open to chaos.
 
At times, we are the crowd standing wide-eyed in the gymnasium, aren’t we?  Maybe I should speak for myself, as I know in the past I’ve easily run to the coverings of losing cool and yelling at the kids, throwing words out in frustration during stressful situations, and allowing thoughts of you can’t do this! and you can never do it right… scream often from within. They were my gymnasium of sorts. It seemed so easy to run there while the chaos from  impending danger spun just moments away.
 
Inevitably the storm blew the roof right off my gymnasium while the chaos tossed about faith, relationships, even my view of me. The resulting evidence of the whirlwind was not beautiful by any means as I attempted to survive.

 

Then the Holy Spirit entered the picture, offering a true place of refuge.

In those specific situations, as I ran to Him, the Lord became my strong tower. He showed me a place and way where I could not only weather and survive the storms of life, but a place where I could thrive.

 
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; 
the [consistently] righteous man 
[upright and in right standing with God] 
runs into it and is safe, 
high [above evil] and strong.
Prov. 18:10 AMP**
 
Running to my strong tower, the Lord, I began to see why I was angry and yelling when the kids would misbehave. It was a mix of pride and “you owe it to me.” When the storms come now, my strong tower is a faithful shelter.

 

The Lord opened my eyes to see how my thoughts were self-condemning when perfection wasn’t achieved. You failed again, guess you’ll have to start again tomorrow. You can never get anything right. Humph! Why can’t I ever get this right? You’ll never look as good as/do as good as those gals. Honestly, I didn’t see how wide-spread the self-condemnation problem was until He allowed me to use His God goggles. The Lord laid bare that which was hiding in the dark corners; He is such a great shelter in the storm. 

Running to frustration in stressful situations was another gymnasium of times past. Even seemingly simple events, like preparing the house for soon-to-arrive guests, would bring an upheaval of emotions and frustration. The Lord gave (and is still giving) me eyes to see the root causes and all the chaos intertwined.

He has truly been faithful to revel and heal those “gymnasium” areas in my life once I’ve run to Him. It took running to Him, the strong tower, first though. It’s not always easy, the flesh certainly doesn’t want it, and patience is a must. However, it is there, in the presence of the Lord, in His strong tower, that we truly find safety. It it there, when the storm rages, that we are afforded opportunity to sit in peace and safety, high above the reaches of evil. Yes indeed, it is there, when we run to Him that we find everything we need.

Maybe there are areas in your life that you know aren’t right? Maybe it’s the frustration or the anger? Perhaps you run to food or maybe the phone to chit-chat all too often?  Oftentimes we know when something isn’t right, while other times we haven’t a clue. Either way, please be encouraged to run to the Lord. Don’t run to your gymnasium, it might be comfortable to go there, but it’s dangerous. Go to the true God instead, go to the strong tower as you weather the storms of life. He is faithful.

Holy Lord,
I come to You now, bringing praise on my lips for Your strong tower. You are faithful and it is through You that I am lifted high above evil. Father, I know that ____________ isn’t right. Your righteousness is missing and darkness is attempting to have its hay day with me. It’s time for that to end. I run now to Your strong tower for safety. Reveal the root of it Lord, and heal me that I might bring You glory. Fill me with Your loving goodness instead. I will wait patiently, knowing that You will answer and Your name will be magnified. I love you Lord.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

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