Late evening storms often pepper my neck of the woods in our beautiful East Tennessee. These summer storms showcase magnificent lightning displays and thunderclouds etched in ominously brilliant colors.
The storms also bring a furry friend to our front door. Roscoe, a little Corgi mixed pup, belongs to a nearby neighbor who often travels. We welcome him in with treats and a warm rug. When his master is out of town, Roscoe finds refuge from the storms with us.
During one thunderous storm, poor Roscoe kept nudging my hand up for comfort every time the violent rumbles exploded over our home. Though my hand rested on his neck, he was shaking terribly because something in his tiny tangerine-sized brain kept him from resting in the safe haven of our home.
At that moment, God reminded me that waiting out the storms can be challenging.
It dawned on me that I’ve done the same thing when going through the storms of life.
Our summer started out stormily. Gailen wrestled hard with combat PTSD partly because his CPAP machine has been on recall. When he doesn’t sleep, I don’t sleep.
Health issues spilled over into another bout of Covid for me and a few surgical procedures.
I picked up little worries along the way, bumped into a few disappointments, and then BAM … my mind started chasing wild, vicious rabbits down problematic trails that I held no power to change. If you’ve ever read the classic Watership Down, you’ll understand scary rabbits.
But on this one stormy night, sitting with Roscoe nuzzled into my side, I realized my focus had shifted from God to discouragement and fear.
The enemy is an expert on worrisome, scary distractions to steal our focus even when we’ve previously weathered numerous storms with the Lord. Nevertheless, in overwhelming moments of pain and weakness, sometimes we don’t choose His peace; we sit and listen to the thunderclaps exploding in our minds.
I don’t want to sit and tremble in the storm; I want to be at rest. I don’t want to focus on myself or the winds of discouragement swirling around; I want to run to the refuge of my faithful God.
When I need encouragement, I often go to one of my favorite scriptures in Isaiah:
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3 (ESV)
Perfect peace means shalom shalom in Hebrew. The repetition emphasis is for added intensity. God’s refuge isn’t just a place of peace; it’s a place of perfect peace.
But staying in this place of perfect peace depends upon our minds. Where we allow our mind to wander or even steer with deliberate thoughts will determine our peace.
But there is another truth to remember when breaking down this verse.
In the Jewish Study Bible, it’s written slightly different:
“A person whose desire rests on you, Adonai, you preserve in perfect peace because he trusts you.” Isaiah 26:3 (The Complete Jewish Study Bible)
Dictionary.com gives the meaning of desire as:
A wish or longing; craving. An expressed wish; request. Sexual appetite; lust. A thing that is desired or a person.
As I look at this long list of verbs and nouns, I see the connections in which we often rest our trust.
We wish for comfort through financial means; we long or crave adventure, food, friendships, and more. We dream of easier lives, perfect moments whispered in fairy tales and portrayed in entertainment.
We can lust over a person, a car, a trip, or something we want for various reasons. But the one word that stuck out to me in this definition was a person.
Sadly, we will never find perfect peace in another human. We’re not perfect people, are we?
But we will find perfect peace in a relationship with God. That peace satisfies all our combined longings, cravings, wishes, and appetites.
And when the storms of life come, HE IS the one person who we can rest on because He will always provide us with an impenetrable refuge.
But where or who we rest our minds on determines if we find this perfect peace.
It takes a deliberate effort to steer our minds to God and His Word.
It takes a tested faith to recall His faithfulness in previous storms. But most importantly, it requires a relationship with Him to build a faith that leads to perfect peace.
Roscoe has spent a few nights sleeping at the foot of our bed, safe from the storms. We usually let him out in the early mornings after the storm passes, and he trots back through the fields toward his master’s house.
But he knows when his master isn’t around and the skies open up in a thunderous performance, he can always find a safe place to rest with the Porters. He’s built that trust in us now. With every refuge he takes in our home, his little furry yellow and white body relaxes, and he eventually finds sleep amidst the sprays of lightning flashing through our bedroom windows.
Over the summer, I’ve been re-reading the covid journals I wrote two years ago when Gailen and I were fighting for our lives. I was reminded through these writings that we’ve battled many storms in our 37 years together.
My faith is strengthened and my hope has pole vaulted to another level.
I’m so grateful I can rest in my merciful God’s care.
Tell me, friend, who do you find rest and refuge in during the storms?
Love you – and I mean it!
A Little Biblical Background:
Isaiah 26 speaks of a song that will be sung in a victory procession into Jerusalem when Jesus, our Messiah, establishes the millennial kingdom. In these beautiful prophetic verses, the prophet Isaiah daydreams about this anticipated Day of the Lord when God judges Israel’s enemies. This prolific chapter reminds us that victory comes to the righteous, redeemed Israel, and they experience perfect peace because they’ve placed their trust in the one true God.
When we place our trust in Jesus Christ, we too can have perfect peace.