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.

Our Preserver

One of the attributes of God is Preserver. He is our Preserver. He lovingly secures our salvation for eternity and maintains His gracious hold on our lives as we love and serve Him and others. Believers are firmly placed in His grip through faith. God safeguards His Word in our lives and He perpetuates our progressive sanctification through His Holy Spirit. We are preserved! We’re in His clutches, defended, conserved, kept, and in a sense frozen solid.

A January snowstorm can bring to mind the good, bad, and ugly of ice and snow. On the one hand, the beauty of new fallen snow in the sunlight is breathtaking. On the other hand, the treachery involved in traveling in the storm or being caught in icy conditions is often underestimated. Finally, there’s the dependence we have on keeping food stored longterm through the means of freezing. Freezing is a means of preserving. Meat is frozen, vegetables are frozen, medications are kept on ice, and the list goes on. And we are acquainted with the panic that happens when thawing happens unannounced by a power outage. We grow very concerned when preservation becomes compromised.

Scripture promises us that God’s preservation of us is without compromise. No power outages threaten us. There is no fear of melting away, no fear of slippage, no fear of being lost. He is our ultimate Preserver. In Him, we can have complete confidence.

God has put important things in place to preserve His children. Deuteronomy 6:24 (NKJV) says, “And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day.” God preserves us through our obedience. Nehemiah 9:6 says, “You alone are the Lord; You have made the heavens, with all their host, The earth and everything on it, The seas and all that is in them, And You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.” God preserves us through His Creation, the air we breath, the water we drink, the food we eat, the shelters that cover us. Psalm 16:1 says, “Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.” God preserves us through our ever-deepening trust in Him, enabled by His Holy Spirit. These truths are encouraging to me at the start of a new year – 2022…

Also, God preserves us through His protection. Psalm 32:7 says, “You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 121:7,8 says, “The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.” Psalm 140:4 says, “Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men, who have purposed to make my steps stumble.” 2 Timothy 4:18 says, “And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!”

As God’s imagebearers, and as we mature in our faith, we begin to reflect God’s preserving characteristics in our own lives – His righteousness, His truthfulness, His fairness, His sincerity. Psalm 25:21 says, “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You.” He involves us in His plans to reconcile and restore. Isaiah 49:8a says, “Thus says the Lord: ‘In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you; I will preserve you and give you as a covenant to the people, to restore the earth…’ ”

Most importantly, God gave us His Son to preserve us eternally. In Jesus Christ, we experience the gift of salvation and understand that by losing our lives in submission to Him, that our lives become preserved forever. We are secured. We are protected. We are delivered from slavery to sin. We are reflectors of His grace because we have first experienced it in Him. We are sealed. We are forever part of His Kingdom.

Luke 17:33 says, “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” A great promise for 2022!



One of my “happy” experiences is visiting a dear friend. A “Grandiflora” living room is a personal reminder of one of these wonderful times with my dear friend who lives in Charleston. Grandiflora is the name of her street. But, it was exactly the reunion of friends that made the street name so special. So, I’ve adopted it as one of my “happy places.” Well worth a 10-hour train ride, for sure.

To me, Grandiflora has taken on a whole new meaning. The sweet smelling rose is now a reminder to me of the gift of friendship. Grandiflora is really the name for hybrids of tea roses and floribunda roses. (Now I am truly out of my element since green-thumbing is far from my list of abilities… but, thank you Google.) I simply have been thinking about happy places and what makes them happy… A street named for a rose. A wonderful friend who lives there…

Here’s another. A few hours of quality with my two daughters and my daughter-in-law on a beautiful sunny day in the spring. A 30-minute drive up Route 5 to Upper Shirley Plantation makes it a beloved route – a happy place. But, not because of the means of getting there – on an unclogged 2-lane byway on a pretty day (which is quite nice).  Instead, because of the sweet end – the treasured bonding between sisters and mother, even mother-in-law, the happy place became happy. The delicious food and drink were only reminders of the laughter and “girl time” that we enjoyed for a few hours.

These treasures, these “ends” to be found in and around happy places, remind me of the treasures that are found in a heart rightly related to Jesus Christ. He is the  Grandiflora of my heart. There is a phrase in the hymn Fairest Lord Jesus: “Fair are the meadows, Fairer still the woodlands, Robed in the blooming garb of spring: Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, Who makes the woeful heart to sing.”

Billy Graham said that the message of the Bible is Jesus Christ. It’s about “humanity’s redemption through Jesus Christ. It’s the message of salvation primarily. It is only incidentally concerned with the history of Israel or a system of ethics.” God’s Word becomes a “happy place” only if it leads one to become a true believer. Fair are the Bible stories, Fairer still the faith of saints over the years, but Jesus is fairer.

Fair are happy places. Fairer still the quality relationships with friends and family. But, Jesus is fairer. He is the Giver Who makes hearts thankful. He is the Savior Who redeems us from the destruction of sin. He is the Grandiflora of the Gospel. He is the Provider of life, peace and eternity with Him.

Psalm 30:11,12 “You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give You thanks forever.”

The happiest place.