Removal of trees has become commonplace in our yard. What once attracted us to our wooded homesite 30 years ago has been replaced by a healthy respect for natural disasters and a determination to be preventive of said disasters in the future. We have a bit of storm anxiety these days and lots of stories to back us up… (That is not my husband up in our tree. We are not totally crazy.)
Hurricane Isabel severely damaged our house in 2003. The cooling shade trees of our thickly wooded subdivision quickly became the means for great damage resulting in months of expense and repair. Our family shelter simply couldn’t withstand the forceful winds and rain. Many trees fell during that fury. Others snapped during lesser storms that would come years later.
Anxiety takes a huge toll on people I know and love – including me. Anything I can’t control troubles me. Like trees falling on houses. Dramatic! So much for the wonderful shade and beautiful scenery. Even the tree removal “professionals” made me anxious. (Were they really “professionals?” I wonder still.) The tree guys have special shoes, tools, and ropes, but you still question if they’ll hold as large limbs come thumping down. The work is still dangerous and the ground still shakes.
Likewise, there are shoes, tools, and ropes that we plant around our lives, hoping for impossible outcomes of lasting support. Truths about the things we trust are steadily revealed. Medicines cannot absolutely guarantee restored health. I don’t even know what to say about the collapsing status of health insurance… Reputations fluctuate. Successful careers end. Good friends end up enemies. Often accidents cause death. Money is not the security we thought it was. Loneliness occurs even when we are surrounded by people. Social media superficializes relationships. The things we lean on for safety are no more than theater props – fake and feeble.
When our comfort is compromised, when our diagnosis is terminal, when our career is interrupted, when our friends betray us – God is the only rock in whom we can take refuge. I love the scripture passage Psalm 94:11-23, especially verses 18-19: “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ Your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought joy to my soul.” I draw support from the Author and Finisher of my faith – Jesus. He doesn’t change and He is always there when my props give way. “But the Lord has become my fortress and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.” (Psalm 94:22)
Attempts to find security in health and financial resources, or in a good name and occupation, prove to be unsustainable. Yet, God sustains us with His love and provision when we completely trust Him. His resources are spiritual and His strength is eternal – no match for the fleeting and flimsy props that we hope will give us happiness. His salvation is forever. His kingdom is not of this world. Psalm 94:18-19 tells us that God’s love supports us when our footing gives way and His joy consoles us when we are paralyzed by anxiety. In Christ, our ultimate fortress, we no longer chase after collapsible props.
“Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.” (Psalm 94:17)