Wartime Lifestyle

One of my favorite verses is Ezekiel 36:26: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” You might ask, “What might this have to do with a ‘wartime lifestyle?’ ” There is a process God conveys upon Christian believers called sanctification whereby the Holy Spirit works in hearts to change them to reflect more and more of God’s image. Instead of a self-improvement project, sanctification is a process of learning to love and serve God and others. It is a process of being rooted in the Church, the Bride of Jesus Christ. It is a process of being transformed more and more into the likeness of Christ.

The winter is typically the time for New Year’s resolutions and self-reflection. A new diet might be in store. A commitment to a new exercise program could be in the works. A change in focus and energy usually follows the hectic holiday season. Maybe more so in early 2022 with the prospect of a pandemic that wouldn’t seem to go away, a “Covid-19” mindset that entered almost every decision of every day…

Regardless of the attempts we make to start over or start something new in our human strength, it is a job that cannot be taken away from the Holy Spirit Who is the only One Who has the power to give us a new heart. Yet, something we can do is to assume a wartime posture and invite the Holy Spirit in to take over. When we answer the Gospel’s radical call to expose the idols of our hearts from underground we recognize the work of spiritual warfare and look to the Victor Who leads us forward.

What hinders us is a subtle drift into a peacetime mindset. This is when we sit back and ignore the silent cancers in our own hearts and adhere to the Pharisee-like externals of keeping to our confessional theology and outward duties of faith. But, at the level of what we are really living for down deep – it turns out we are living for something other than God. We are drifters. We drift into a peacetime lifestyle that makes us complacent and unaware of present dangers to our souls. If honest, we discover that all we want is comfort. Not the responsibilities of the Great Commission. Not engagement, but rather passively watching movies and clicking through social media. Not generous giving, but taking pride in our own possessions. Not soldiering, but taking pride in ease and prestige. Not building the Church, but weakening the Church.

The wartime lifestyle is a stance of repentance, not forgetfulness, not mind-numbing activity. It is an Isaiah 55:6,7 stance, “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on them, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.” A wartime mentality focuses on needy people who are spiritually and physically perishing. A wartime mentality focuses on missions and unreached peoples.

I don’t battle weight gain or loss, but instead for the weightlessness of Christ’s reconciliation; I don’t shed soul-blood over life’s frustrations, but instead apply my life-blood to honoring Christ and loving others; I don’t engage in combat to get to the front of the line, but instead engage in combat to take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5); I don’t create conflict unless it is to further the cause of Christ to which I have been called; I don’t answer others with hostile words, but I maintain healthy hostility toward the enemy of my soul; I don’t stir up strife, but I will contend for the spread of the Gospel; I don’t strike out to inflict retribution, but I strike out to offer others the fruits of the Spirit of God.

The Gift of Laughter

Although not an exhaustive list, my friends – the “Outer Banks” girls, have spent many of our beach getaways coining phrases, inserting new connotations into otherwise ordinary words, and re-quoting the best lines from “Call The Midwife” or “The Chosen” (our favorite shows to stream while retreating). The ensuing laughter could definitely be categorized as the best medicine! True fun!

While others in the world draw their inspiration primarily from music, we seem to draw our “beach” inspiration from laugher, a not so distant relative. Bodywise, laughter actually decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. While increasing the intake of oxygen-rich air, laughter triggers the release of endorphins which promote a sense of well-being. Laughter even provides temporary relief from pain. More please!

Psalm 126:1-2 says, “When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, We were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ ” C.S. Lewis indicates in his book THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS that the enemy of our souls attempts to eradicate laughter and fun in our lives because these are too closely connected to Heaven’s joys and to God Himself. Can you imagine the feeling of freedom that comes from being released from captivity? I’m sure it is similar to the feeling of all-is-well that comes from lots of laughter. Big doses of relief, restoration, refreshment.

Why music and laughter can be paired together is because both can carry us away by lifting our hearts higher than earth usually allows us to be lifted. We get a little closer to Heaven’s joys somehow. We reach heights that are unusually healing. Lewis says that “fun” is a means of destroying shame. How wonderful! So the reader will understand that Uncle Screwtape urges Wormwood to discourage laughter in THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS.

Ecclesiastes 5:20 says, “For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps [him] busy with the joy of his heart.” Joyful laughter lifts us out of anti-grace, or a low position of not being able to experience how humor ministers to the heart. It raises us to a higher position whereby we experience enjoyment for its own sake. No agendas or hidden motives. Just pure enjoyment.

The SpaceX Starship orbital test flight blew up on April 20, 2023. It had been described in the news as a “rapid unscheduled disassembly” – a phrase that presented me and my beach friends the raw material for much laughter as it can apply to many other volatile life circumstances… Don’t get me started… It might be one of our favorite quotes this trip.

For us, the most powerful therapy is arguably laughter. Some may argue music. Some may argue a beautiful sunset. I know laughter to be an immediate source of hope, like a shot of adrenaline. A good burst of laughter is miraculous to the body, mind, and soul. And laughter should be celebrated, not just because it is such a great gift of enjoyment among girlfriends at the beach, but also it foils the attacks of the enemy of our souls on our actual souls.

Isaiah 51:11 says, “So the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness; sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Psalm 4:7 says, “You have put gladness in my heart…”

Let laughter transport you to the closest orbit of Heaven, so that you will overcome the disassembly intended to harm your soul. Let laughter bring you the restored hope communicated by a beautiful sunset. Let laughter bring you to understand that it is a special gift of a gracious God. May God keep you busy with the joy of your heart! May it be as beautiful and colorful as a wonderful sunset!

Photo Credit: Joan Mills, Saguaro National Park 2022

I Am With You

With over 200 instances in God’s Word of the declaration “I am with you,” is it any wonder that God’s heart is to alleviate our sense of aloneness and assure us of His presence? Are we still unwilling to see Him as the Anchor for our souls when we are threatened by life’s storms? Do we ignore His palpable Presence available when we are in the midst of scary circumstances? Do we miss the Quiet Breeze of His Spirit when we are still and prayerful? Do we forget that He is our Refuge when our tears must be poured out and when our fears must be safely processed?

I am currently back at a place of remembrance – a small cottage at the Outer Banks where I spent approximately 10 years doing bi-yearly weekend retreats with my friends, lovingly referred to as the “Outer Banks Girls.” What started out as a Bible study group reunion idea blossomed into now “twice a year” week-long retreats. God has been extremely detectable in this group from long before the actual beach trips. We jumped into the complexities of each other’s lives years ago in a Bible study entitled “Master Life.”

Friends are indeed the best helpers. There has always been a lot of compassion and love in our group. And the wisdom for living came directly from God’s Word. All we did was listen to it and try to appropriate it in all our seasons of life. We had the right credentials – we felt quite weak and ordinary, real messes. But, we had God’s Spirit.

Psalm 46:1-11 says (NKJV), “…God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea…There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her…Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.”

I am reminded that relationships are where we find the best and worst of life. I am very thankful for my friends, the “Outer Banks Girls.” The gift of friendship, especially among Christian friends, is the best of life. Speaking honestly with friends from the heart and in a safe space is a treasure, not to be hidden away, but to be similarly shared with others. We are able to minister because we’ve been ministered to. All conversations have been roads to our relationship with God Himself, the One Who is Present, the One Who is With Us. We have helped each other to be conscious of God and to recognize His voice. And I am extremely grateful.

Acts 2:28 says, “You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.”

Good Waiting

I recently heard this quote: “Hard is hard, but hard is not bad.” One of the hardest things in life is waiting. Waiting for the stop light to change. Waiting for the winter to pass. Waiting for an intended outcome. Waiting for healing from surgery. Waiting for an ache to stop. Waiting on the Lord for next steps…

Waiting is not bad. One of my favorite books is THE HEART OF A SERVANT LEADER by C. John Miller. It is a compilation of pastoral letters that “Jack” wrote encouraging Christian leaders to fulfill their primary role to be servants. And often, that role involves remembering that God’s plan is bigger than whatever pain comes into our lives. The call of God is for us to stand by in childlike trust, knowing that waiting produces godly character. Psalm 25:21 says, “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You.”

I’ve always been most distressed when I am “rushing” in my spirit, not just my body. Wrapped up in squeezing the blood out of time. Full of myself, thinking I can get so much done and that I must. Creating my own overwhelming dance card. Filling up every minute to a frenzy. It may not look like it on the outside, but it is crushing on the inside. And why?

As I overload the schedule and rely on my own strength and competence, I forget that God is in charge. I forget to care for others in the wake of my self-focus. I miss out on joy and freedom in Christ. I make my own prison trying to force things to happen. Yet, when I recognize the God Who is working His often unseen plan through my energies, thoughts, decisions, and circumstances, then I can stop rushing and do some good waiting.

C. John Miller says: “Praise grows out of God-given perception of reality, a seeing that God is infinitely good and infinitely good to me in Jesus Christ in every circumstance. To have that kind of praise, you need to take time, to wait upon the Lord in prayer and meditate upon His greatness and grace and the might of His kingdom…Praise Christ because He has worked to give you a self-forgetting love” for those strugglers whose paths intersect with yours. In the same letter to a struggling missionary, he says, “…The Spirit may be released in a new way when work is done with less haste and pressure.”

James 4:13-15 says, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

Good waiting isn’t meant to bring life to a screeching halt. God will reveal His providential will of control in hindsight. We will look back and see that God was always applying His purposes to the story of our lives. His movement will always be in the background in ways we cannot see in the present. However, we are still called to make responsible decisions, remembering that there is good sense in making wise adult choices while having the faith as small as a mustard seed at the same time. This is not about idleness, but about living fully. Live fully by dedicating your life plans to a Sovereign God Who can be trusted to guide you in these. And be intentional about leaving room in your heart and mind for prayerful waiting on God in the midst.

Psalm 39:7 says, “And now Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.”

Photo credit: Ro Seaman

On This Special Day

Psalm 90:12-17 (NLT) says, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. O Lord, come back to us! How long will You delay? Take pity on Your servants! Satisfy us each morning with Your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. Let us, Your servants, see You work again; let our children see Your glory, And may the Lord our God show us His approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!”

This inspiring scripture came with a birthday card from a dear friend! I have literally been celebrating one of my twilight birthdays for the whole month of February! This is again a reminder of how many wonderful friends I have been given by God! Breakfasts, lunches, and movie dates have filled my special month and have been tied to my special day of birth!

I store away special greeting cards as keepsakes for a long time, especially ones that express the treasure of friendship, the wisdom of God, and the reminder of God’s grace in a world that pushes back against all things that were meant for good and human flourishing… When I am in need of encouragement, I pull these cards from the drawer and read them while counting my blessings! In them I realize sacred treasures – God’s providential care and sweet relationships based on Jesus Christ. And I am thankful.

I saw the movie “Jesus Revolution” on opening night with my friend Sharon. We have vague recollections of the “true story” when we were young (1971-72 ish). But, one truth stands out after all these years. God’s delays are for our extended opportunities for His forgiveness of our sin and for our eternal salvation. A revival back then! A revival now! These pourings out of God’s Spirit at special times in history remind us that God is still at work. In His unfailing love, He gives us hope and gladness and revival!

How encouraging to see how God put His hand on Greg Laurie’s heart as a very young man, called him out of the darkness of his beginning circumstances, revealed Himself as the God of Hope, and then raised him up to be an author, pastor, evangelist, leader, and church planter. His story is depicted in the movie “Jesus Revolution,” but more than that, the story is a larger story of how God does take pity on people, replaces misery with gladness, replaces evil years with good, and replaces lack of hope with His wisdom and unfailing love.

Birthdays remind us of the brevity of life. But, also the great gift of life. And, by God’s grace, the possibility of singing for joy all the way to the end of our lives!

Baby Stages

With the recent birth of my 7th grandbaby (6th granddaughter), I cannot begin to explain the hope and wonder wrapped up in that little bundle, only 7 lbs. and 4 oz., in those first few days – swaddled and resting securely in the various arms of her parents and grandparents. Nothing on earth compares to that joy.

I am reminded that Jesus chose the route of human birth in order to meet the greatest need of the world – the need for redemption. He didn’t start out the journey as an adult, He chose to complete the whole human experience in its entirety. He started out as a baby. Zechariah 4:10 (NIV) says, “Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?” Zerubbabel was a descendant of David who was born in Babylon during the exile, and as an adult, returned to his homeland (Judah) to rebuild the temple during the time of Nehemiah. Small beginnings led to a great project for God’s glory.

Maturity doesn’t happen over night. All of life begins in the hidden places, beyond our ability to physically see. Psalm 139:15 says, “My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” Hidden from us – yes, but not hidden from all-knowing and all-powerful Creator God. The One Who directs our growth and development. The One Who sees us. The One we can know.

All people, enterprises, businesses, ministries start with small beginnings – fragile, tenuous, and in need of great care to survive and thrive. There are baby stages that are as important as, if not more important than, the more mature stages. With a New Year (2023) and the expected conversations about resolutions, wouldn’t it be very promising to apply ourselves to the tender care of all those things that are in their infancy? Things that hold promise for the future and human flourishing in general? Things that build up rather than tear down? Things that are in their baby stages?

I can think of countless things that need gentle nurture so that they can reach healthy adulthood. However, most urgent is the nurture of our fledgling faith in the God Who created the universe and reached down to us through His Son Jesus to redeem us. All other nurture flows from growing faith. Faith has an infancy, yet God is faithful to place opportunity after opportunity in front of us to develop in us stronger faith in Him. Faith has baby stages, but let us not let another year go by when we let apostasy stunt any chance we have for spiritual maturity and growth.

My resolution is to make sure I don’t let baby stages become permanent and stunt my growth. John MacArthur has said, “An Apostate is someone who has received the Light but not the Life, the seed but not the fruit, the written Word but not the Living Word, the truth but not a love for the truth.” I am grateful for the baby stages when I first received the Light, the seed, the written Word and the truth. But, by God’s grace, I don’t want to remain in infancy. I want to live out the Life, produce the fruit, reflect the Living Word, and have a love for the truth.

New Mercies

Mercy is there. New every morning. Just look.

Sometimes I prefer the King James Version, especially for these verses. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: Great is Thy Faithfulness.”

Thanksgiving will be different this year. A January 2022 idea to expand our sunporch and to add a screened porch materialized, but not until October (it is now November)! Construction is moving forward, albeit very slowly. Although timing has seen delays – there is still mercy. NOTHING will be finished by Thanksgiving Day, but my family will gather together nevertheless (with not completely ideal accommodations). Yet we remember the “not so ideal” also happening during the height of Covid-19 when we served soup and ham biscuits in our garage with the doors open on a cold day. Mercy.

Thanksgiving will be remembered differently this year… By God’s grace, my husband and I were home on September 20th when an upstairs water pipe burst and sent water flowing down through the dining room ceiling. Thankfully, we had the ability to hear the rushing water and to mitigate the flow by turning off the main valve, placing buckets, mopping with towels, etc. What interesting timing! We thought we were prepping for the planned renovations to the house, but now we were prepping for the unplanned restoration and repair of the damage to the interior of the house. By some weird timing, the sunporch/screened porch construction project started on October 10th and has since completely overlapped with the water damage repair. Well, if there has to be a major disruption in our lives, best to do it all at once? And, at Thanksgiving time?

Meanwhile, I took a trip to the Outer Banks with some girlfriends right around the time that Hurricane Ian brought winds and rains and flooding and more leaks to the rental house. Dialoguing with the owner felt a lot like our conversations back home with our restoration contractor. And PTSD. Perhaps our being at the rental was a mercy for the owner. Suppose no one had been there? More buckets and mopping, a familiar scenario, but also less damage. Mercy.

A cascade of health issues put another layer of disruption upon everything. Covid finally caught up to my husband and me. This caused a two-week convalescence. Immediately, friends and family brought us food which was so timely, before we even realized how much we were going to need it. Mercy. I also wrestled with a kidney stone issue during this time. But, a last minute cancelation allowed me to get in to see a urologist very quickly. Mercy.

I am grateful for God’s mercies, great and small. On the first “good day” post-Covid, I went on a short road trip with my husband to get the traditional country ham. We figured we had enough energy to accomplish this task and we did. It actually felt good to be in a car and out in the world! Mercy! Our expanding family is fast becoming more focused on the country ham than the traditional turkey, and by God’s grace, we will be together this Thanksgiving to enjoy it. Counting down to ham!

But, the whole point is gathering, not really the ham. Thanksgiving will really be a time of thanksgiving for us. What didn’t kill us made us stronger (you’ve heard that before). We have experienced many mercies and have not had to look too hard to find them. The demolition of the water soaked walls actually gave us a better look at other items that needed fixing. Outdoors we discovered a gas leak that needed to be repaired. A few crawl space issues were discovered as well. Sure I’d like a completed living space, a lot less upheaval in my life, a pain free existence. But, we are not consumed. Mercy!

The biggest of God’s compassions is my husband! He is an exacting site supervisor with a keen knowledge of building and landscaping. He has been actively involved in all the house projects on an hourly basis – overseeing every single contractor and orchestrating every logistic. He himself has even taken up the hammer, the shovel, and other tools as part of the construction crew. Not sure he is totally accepted as a peer contractor, but he is definitely a master of quality control. Yes, he is tied to the site, sometimes likened to a prison, while I have been free to continue my activities without much limitation. This is mercy on steroids. And, I am grateful.

What we’ll remember about this Thanksgiving is the endurance, the perseverance, the love of family, the determination to gather and eat a great meal no matter what, and to watch a project unfold from its center rather than its end. We are not consumed. God’s mercies are clearly seen. I am thankful that God pulled back the veil for me particularly, so I could see this merciful flow.

Psalm 13:5 (KJV) says, “But I have trusted in Thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation.” I am not consumed. God’s compassions do not fail. Great is His faithfulness.

Ultimate Chivalry

I was a new bride 42 years ago. I continue to be blessed by a husband that has many great qualities, but one of the best things is his strength in a crisis. This is ultimate. This is when he is an extreme protector and a fearless solution-finder. When we face crises together, this is when I feel the most safe. Because this is when his safeguarding and sheltering reaches its height.

We live in a lovely area. But, it is truly a swamp-like environment posing many hazards due to large trees, vulnerable power lines nearby, and 6-8 months of pesky humidity. I won’t mention the critters. At least we don’t have alligators. Then there are also garden variety hazards like a recent second floor hot water heater pipe bursting into flooding waters in our house, ensuing mopping and bucketing of water, emergency calls to plumbers and restoration companies, and then life with dust-storming “air movers” to dry out the water-soiled places. In this crisis, my husband’s heroism was and is notable. The picture of heroism that my husband gave me reminded me that chivalry is definitely not dead…

There is a picture of of chivalry in God’s Word (Revelation) in the picture of the Church being the Bride of Christ (the Bridegroom). The chivalry of Christ cannot die, because He cannot die. His kind of chivalry is eternal and definitely not passe, definitely not a flawed human tradition. Christ will present His Bride spotless one day to God the Father, with honor, courtesy, and courage surrounding her. Like a knight in shining armor, Christ is the gallant and compassionate husband of His Bride the Church.

Ephesians 5:28-33 says, “In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the Church – for we are members of His body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the Church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” The feeding and caring and love of Christ is the ultimate chivalry.

Christ bestows honor to believers (His Bride) based upon His Name. He bestows protection to her because of His victory over sin and death. He bestows sensitivity to her because of His great love and compassion. Her holiness is not intrinsic, but derived from Him. Although battered and soiled and fragile and disappointing, the Church-Bride is declared holy because of dependence upon the One Who sanctifies her. This is the One Who covers her with the cloak of righteousness. Prepares her, rescues her, intercedes for her, shelters her in a chivalrous manner, defends her, cares for her.

Long ago when I became a Martin, I knew that I would take on a covering of more than a name. But, I didn’t know how blessed I would be to enjoy a lifetime of knight-in-shining armor moments and seasons. All this to say, my earthly picture at home of the bridegroom-bride relationship has reminded me of the more powerful reality of the chivalrous Christ-Church relationship whereby Christ is the ultimate hero. The chivalrous Rock and Redeemer Who is valiant, benevolent, brave, protective, rescuing. Jesus Christ – the ultimate Shelter in the storms.

Psalm 34:22 says, “The Lord will rescue His servants, no one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned.” The safeguarding and sheltering of Christ is the ultimate chivalry and makes me very grateful for an earthly husband who regularly hints at eternal realities through his protectiveness.

Abundance of Your Steadfast Love

Photo credit: Kim Clayton Lance

Psalm 69:13-15 (ESV) “But as for me, my prayer is to You, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of Your steadfast love answer me in Your saving faithfulness. Deliver me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters. Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me.”

My personalized prayer as I meditate on these words from Psalm 69:13-15:

But as for me, I am an image-bearer in need of an image restoration. I need a new vision of You Lord God, I need a new life song. My prayer is to You, O Lord. Who else?

At an acceptable time, O God, cement my ability to wait on Your perfect timing and choice for all things. In the abundance of Your steadfast love answer me, make me sure that You hear and that You act according to Your loyal, compassionate, covenant love (Hesed).

Again, show me Your saving faithfulness, Your flawless character, Your unchanging care, Your righteous rule, Your amazing grace. Deliver me from sinking in the mire of fearing failure, being troubled by circumstances, being swamped by anxiety, being consumed by control-freakishness, being pulled under by disappointments and sadnesses, being arrested by joy-stealers.

Let me be delivered from my enemies – the Father of Lies, the spiritual forces of evil, the accusations and expectations of others, my own pride and self-focus. Let me be delivered from the deep waters of aging, illness, heartache, phobias, addictions. Let not the flood sweep over me, the tyranny of the urgent, performance anxiety, the lack of knowledge of Your Truth, apathy, numbness. Let not the deep swallow me up in hopelessness, let not the pit of self pity close its mouth over me, let not my faith be weakened by the challenges of life.

Because of Your steadfast love, I will not be shaken today or any day. Your saving faithfulness is all I need. Remind me of it. Imprint it on my heart. Confirm it in my spirit. Thank you Lord God!


In life’s crises, AKA “life-and-death issues,” the truth of God’s Word most plainly stands out. How? Both saints (believers in Jesus Christ, Son of God) and non-saints seem to call out, “God!” Even if people profess not to believe, the event of being most backed into a corner by life’s circumstances, either in the unmistakable bad choices we make or being sinned against by others, the first thing we tend to do is to cry out to a higher power, either reverently or irreverently.

We find many call-outs to God in the Psalms. Psalm 16:1 (ESV) says, “…Preserve me, O God, for in You I take refuge.” Psalm 43:1 says, “Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!” Psalm 63:1 says, “A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, You are my God; earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 64:1 says, “…Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint; preserve my life from dread of the enemy.” It is not coincidental that many of these Psalms start with verse #1 call-outs and end with exclamation points.

The Psalms also well describe the troubles of the world. Psalm 69:1 says, “…Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck.” Psalm 69:5 says, “O God, You know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from You.” Psalm 70:5 says, “But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!”

It is saints who know they belong to God, whom God’s Name is written upon. The sufferings of saints are not omens of the end of their world, but rather are a context to nudge true hope to life and bring it to fulfillment. Saints are refugees fleeing from a fallen world who find refuge in the Lord. Saints are those displaced, vulnerable, degraded, yet affirmed in God’s glory, strength and hope. Dependent on the Savior for the warmth and comfort of eternal life in Him, saints are freed from the slavery of self-sufficiency and right of ownership.

We see in Scripture that being “poor in spirit” is a means to blessedness. Matthew 5:3 gives us this beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Understand, this doesn’t mean poor as in destitute, impoverished, or empty, but rather “poor in spirit” means perpetually conscious of the urgent need for assistance that only God generously and freely promises when we call on Him.

Isaiah 28:16 says, Therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am the One Who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’ ” How firm a foundation we have in Christ our Refuge.

The Hymn “How Firm a Foundation” includes this verse: “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in God’s excellent Word! What more can be said than to you God hath said, to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?” The hymn teaches us to need God’s help and to see suffering as a route He uses to get us there. As refugees, we have fled to the Source of Mercy and have found Mercy. We have fled to the Source of Grace and have found Grace. We have fled to the Source of Truth and have found Truth.

At last, refuge.