Tag Archives: storms

Shelter From Storms

Wisely, birds build their nests in sheltered places. Our robins build their nests either on the timbers beneath our deck or on a gable sheltered by our roof. Wrens chose to build theirs in a dense tangle of vines beneath an overhang on house.

Birds prepare for the eventuality of storms. Terrible storms—hurricanes, tornadoes, and torrential rains—have batRobins nesttered much of the world this year. Nothing could prepare Toronto this past weekend for the historic torrents of rain that flooded the whole city. But we can learn from storms. When Hurricane Hazel blasted Ontario in 1954 and flooded the Humber River valley, 81 people lost their lives and there was 137 million dollars in property damage. As a result municipalities on river valleys in Ontario passed legislation banning the building of homes on most river valleys and flood plains.

Experience tells us that it is foolish to build on a flood plain, or as Jesus warned, on sand. It is just as foolish to be unprepared for the emotional and spiritual storms that will inevitably batter our lives.

Our friends or family may become for us the help and encouragement we need during times of trial or pain. And when friends and family need us, we should provide the same support to them. We should also express concern and offer practical help to suffering neighbours.

Robins NestBut in a fallen world where selfishness reigns, where misunderstandings abound, and where most seem oblivious to the pain we feel inside, there is one place where we can always find shelter. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune may fly all around us. We may be tested and tried beyond our limits. No one may hear our silent cry for help—but One Person. But that One is always attentive to our cries.

The book of Psalms abundantly testifies to that reality. “Blessed are all who take refuge in him [the Son]” (Psalm 2:12). “O Lord my God, I take refuge in you”(Psalm 7:1). “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble”(Psalm 8:9). “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold”(Psalm 18:2). Ira Sankey put this truth to music;

The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide,
A shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide,
A shelter in the time of storm.

Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land…a shelter in the time of storm.

Do we find ourselves assailed by storms of pain or doubt, discouragement or worry? Let’s find refuge in the arms of Jesus.

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Behind the clouds the Sun shines

Frowning Providence & God’s Smiling Face

I commented to a friend one day how welcome the sun was after so many cloudy and stormy days. An inveterate optimist who seems to always discover a silver lining in otherwise gloomy circumstances, she pointed out that the sun was always there, even when hidden from view. To ensure that I didn’t miss the spiritual application, she also reminded me that the Lord is always with us even when things look dark.

I don’t often appreciate people turning an innocent comment about the weather into a soapbox. But this particular friend is such a sunny Christian who faces challenging circumstances with laudable faith, that one can’t be annoyed with her. Don’t you wish there were more positive, hopeful Christians committed to spreading sunshine wherever they go? In my case, her comment has inspired me often to revel in the promised presence of our triune God—and led to this devotional.

The Bible is replete with reminders of this truth.   The Lord is my shepherd…He leads me…He restores my soul… He guides me…I will fear no evil, for you are with me. (Psalm 23)

It is hard to imagine someone facing more challenges and difficulties than David. And yet he was able to pen not only the twenty-third psalm but many other gems. The following verse from his pen, I’ve often claimed:  I have set the Lord always before me./Because he is at my right hand,/ I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:8)

Jesus warned his disciples three times about his coming death, an event that could have totally shaken their faith. To prepare them he explained; I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.…He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans. (John 14: 16-18)

Then just before his ascension, He gave them the Great Commission. Embedded in that command was his promise:   And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matt. 28:20)

Knowing that our Lord is present beyond the veil of sight, will not deliver us from troubles. Economic challenges will sometimes stymie us. We must continue to remain vigilant in traffic. Illness may lay us low. Sorrow could dog our footsteps. Relationships may falter. Persecution might come. But we will never be alone.

Angels will be attending our pathway. Jesus Christ will be praying that our faith fail not. The Holy Spirit will be within us empowering us to resist the enticements of our own fallen nature. The Father will be operating behind the scenes so that all things in our lives will work out for our good and His glory. The Holy Spirit will be interceding for us with groans that words cannot express. All the resources of heaven will be bent on carrying us triumphantly to heaven.

We live in a fallen, chaotic world prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and wars. But as the hymn writer reminds us: Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face.

Although sometimes hidden, the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. (Psalm 84:11) (For other devotional readings bringing Scripture and nature together go to Eric’s web site, www.countrywindow.ca or purchase his book, Down A Country Road.)

Taking Things For Granted

How fortunate it is that God reminds us from time to time to be thankful for what we take for granted. Last week a terrible series of storms marched across the US. In Ontario we felt the whiplash of their passing. Although the winds knocked down trees, removed shingles and plunged thousands into darkness, we didn’t suffer any of the tragic losses felt by our American cousins. For that we are cautiously thankful, for we know that it is certainly not because we are more worthy than they. A more generous people than Americans is hard to find on planet earth.
However, we did learn a lot from the storm. Those lessons concern not only being thankful for good, sunshiny twister-free weather. We are especially thankful for electricity and the ingenuity that God has built into those He created in His own image. Last Thursday the storm blew a tree over the power lines across the road and we lost power for three days along with 600 others. We found ourselves singularly unprepared for this eventuality. As the temperature dipped close to freezing, the house got colder and colder. We had no heat source whatever. A couple of times during the next days, we drove to our daughter’s house, a half hour away, to get warm.
For light we did have a few candles and a oil lamp. I couldn’t find a flashlight. How could we live without being able to read? How would we entertain ourselves without the TV?
Since we live on a rural property we have a well. With the pump disabled, we soon found ourselves without water. Fortunately, we had some water we could use for flushing the commode and washing hands. The summer before I’d installed a barrel to collect rain water off the roof. And we had some bottled water for drinking and brushing our teeth.
At first we fired up the backyard BBQ to boil water in a can and heat up some soup. Finally, deep in our storeroom we found an old propane camping stove that we could use to fry eggs and heat water to wash up without blackening our cooking pots.
Would we lose all our frozen food—the scores of containers of soup we’d painstakingly cooked, the meat, the bargains we’d found at grocery stores? Fortunately, the power outage was not widespread and we were able to buy ice to keep things cold.
Everything takes so much longer and is so much more difficult when we lose the boon of electricity. So, we’re suddenly very thankful for light bulbs and furnaces, for stoves and freezers, for coffee pots and water pumps, for computers and TV’s. Truly, the Lord has made man a little lower than the angels and crowned him with glory and honour. Now if only we’d learn to redirect the glory to its source.
We will try to remind ourselves in the days ahead not to take good things for granted whether they be the conveniences we enjoy or the people in our lives; and especially not to take God’s grace in Jesus Christ for granted. Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of lights. (James 1:17) And as Romans 2:4 reminds us, the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience…should lead us…toward repentance. Including repenting for unthankfulness.