Growing up in a small Western New York town on Chautauqua Lake, I spent a good portion of my summer days hanging out at the Mayville Lakeside Park. It was a great way to occupy kids for the summer: swim lessons, numerous activities, and friends. What a way to spend the day!
One hot summer day, the park was full of people attempting to find relief from the sweltering heat when a lifeguard’s whistle broke through the sounds of laughter and fun. Another whistle, followed by instruction: Seek Shelter NOW! Silence overtook what—only moments before—had been full of chatter as everyone stopped what they were doing, looked up, and saw the massive dark clouds, streaks of lightning , and heavy downpour headed towards the park.
Without hesitation people quickly made their way to the closest building—the bathhouse. Squeezing in as tightly as we could, and when the building could hold no more, the rest spilled out under the awning. I think every inch of the cemented foundation was covered.
Have you ever experienced a storm like that? There are some storms we just never forget.
When I think back on the memory, it is interesting to me how everyone sought shelter in the same place. People were packed in the small space like a can of sardines. Was it comfortable? Absolutely not – but in that moment, uncomfortable seemed better than getting caught in a nasty storm.
Expected or not, life has a way of creating storms. We endure storms of all kinds: marriage, financial, work-related, kids and parent, friendship, extended family, health, and on goes the list. Regardless of the storm, a secure shelter is sought. We want a place of protection when lifeboats begin rocking, waves are crashing, and we desperately long for peace to return. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered in my quest for security that I have a tendency to run for cover under a shelter that offers me nothing more than another storm.
We all have places we run when we want shelter from a storm. Where do you run? Food? Shopping? Drugs? Alcohol? Work? Sleep? Friends? God? Sometimes we wait until we feel drenched by the storm before we reach out to God for help. I wonder what would happen if we flipped the switch and made Him our first option instead of the last. I think King David, as a man who experienced numerous storms, was able to write, “Lord, you alone are everything I need. You make my life secure” because he figured out there was no better place to run (Ps. 16:5, NIRV).
Secure is defined as, easy in mind (Merriam-Webster). When life takes a stormy turn it can be difficult to maintain a mind of ease. Our mind is on the frontline of the battle as thoughts toss between fear and faith. Protecting the security of our mind must become our top priority to prevent a spirit of fear from overtaking us. Obviously, God wants us to be secure in our mind because He gave us power, love and a sound mind. (See 2 Timothy 1:7). If we are going to experience security in the storms of life then we must seek shelter from the Source where true security can be found—something, or someOne other than people, possessions and perceptions.
Psalm 91:1 holds our invitation to a place where we can find true security. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand]” (Psalm 91:1, AMP).
After picking apart three words from this verse I discovered the word dwell is from the Hebrew, yashab and it means to remain, abide, sit, or to be set. The word shelter is defined as a hiding place, secret place or covering. The word, shadow translates to, shade of protection.
According to Matthew Henry, one way we can be easy in mind is to understand that “all those who live a life of communion with God are constantly safe under his protection, and may therefore preserve a holy serenity and security of mind at all times.” Now, does this mean that as Christians we will never suffer loss, hurt and walk through painful hard places? No. But it does mean that we have a safe place to dwell in the midst of them. We are never promised a life of ease or a lack of disappointment. Where we allow our minds to dwell makes a huge difference in our security during stormy times.
Paul instructed the Romans to be cautious about where they set their minds. If they lived according to the flesh, their minds would be set on the things of the flesh. But, those living for the Spirit would likewise have their minds set on the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5). As children of God, our minds need to be set on the things of the Spirit. When we dwell, or set our minds on the Spirit, we will remain secure and restful.
Spend a few moments doing a security test: Where is the first place you run when life gets stormy? When the clouds begin to form, rather than run straight into another storm, seek shelter under the shadow of the Almighty.
Try this #Activ8tion plan:
A. Acknowledge the fear.
B. Read your Bible.
C. Call a friend for prayer.
D. Dwell in the shelter of the Most High.
Around ten months ago, the Lord began to plant curiosity within Chrissy and I (Kolleen), about how our local LeadHer chapter could do outreach events in Oswego County such as the one my church, Abundant Life Christian Center, does in Onondaga County. After serving with ALCC's REACH, handing out turkeys, we set up a meeting with Mark Haywood, ALCC's Outreach Pastor.
What we planned, however, was different than what God had planned and we sat with Pastor Mark as he led us though a discussion on outreach. But, it also turned into a ministry-strategy-planning-learning session that left us wondering what just happened. Seriously, we drove home and said to one another, "What just happened?" That was a little different than we expected. We received an email the next day from Pastor Mark too, and he expressed his bewilderment over how our discussion went. He said, "I went home and told my wife about this and I can't stop thinking, or talking about it. This is bigger than you think."
Wait. What? Bigger than you think? It seems that is indeed, a fact. What began as Chrissy and I wondering how to do an outreach event in Oswego County, led to prayerful discussions with LeadHer's founder, Christie Love about reviving LeadHer and becoming Co-Director's of this fabulous women's ministry.
We travelled to Missouri, meet with Christie, Holly Madden and Kim Bausinger, and after two days travelled back to New York State with the ministry model of LeadHer. We've been trying to keep up with God ever since.
We've begun building a Board, we've filed Articles of Incorporation and will file for 5013C status once we are able. We've begun video taping our teachings (the LeadHer team made it look so easy!) We are in the process of revamping the Coordinator's manual and leadership trainings for the ladies who are ready to jump in and begin chapters. It has been a busy summer!
It's amazing to me how perfect the Lord's timing is for our lives. Chrissy has served as the Administrative Assistant at her church, Believers' Chapel North, for the last seven years. A little more than a year ago she began sensing the Lord was going to be moving her out of that full-time position and we began praying for the person the Lord would have join her in a job-share position. Sue begins in September.
And for me, this will be the first time in eleven years I will no longer be in full-time daycare. I can't believe it was eleven years ago when I wasn't sure what God had for me and He brought me Anna and Ainsley to watch. Then He added, Ian, Cadence, Andrew, Isaac, Mason and Emery. Wow! I always wondered what He had planned for me once Emery went to school and now I know.
Chrissy and I are really excited to begin this season of full-time ministry together; yes, we might be trembling-with-knocking-knees-excited, but it's still excitement. ;) We appreciate your prayers as we move along.
Activ8ing Her for Him!
Kolleen (and Chrissy)