Escape, Not Just from Winter . . .

This was our plan from the start. Should we return to the Midwest (which we did do in 2018), then we planned to escape the terse winters. A compromise. We would have preferred to have stayed in Arizona for the rest of our lives. Family in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio wooed us back to the heartland. You understand.

Paul and I have been in Florida for nearly a month now.  I think that one of the most calming aspects of being here is sitting in the lanai (or sunroom), feeling a soft breeze, and watching the sway of the palm branches.

View from the lanai or sunroom.



Palm branches, slow-dancing in the breeze, sooth my soul, reminding me, ironically, of Psalm 46:10. Ironically? Yes. This verse instructs us to “be still” or “cease striving.” It is the movement of the branches that arrests me. Rhythmic palm branches slow, slow, slow my spirit. My pattering thoughts nearly stop. “Be still” (KJV) or “cease striving” (NASB) “and know that I am God,” waft through my  mind, while the palm trees woo.

Slow-dancing palm branches. (Yes, those are my tootsies. I’m leaning back in a comfortable chair. Being still.)





The sons of Korah composed this impressive psalm. Long before the psalmists’ insistent imperatives of verse 8 (“Come, behold the works of the LORD”) and verse 10 (“Be still”) are seven verses of declaratives: truth claims and affirmations.  Just what our hearts need.

“God is our refuge and strength,

A very present help in trouble.


we will not fear,

though the earth should change,

and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;

though its waters roar and foam,

though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

the holy dwelling places of the Most High.

God is in the midst of her; she will not be moved.

God will help her when morning dawns.

The nations made an uproar; the kingdoms tottered.

He raised His voice; the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us.

The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

Come, behold the works of the LORD, 

Who has wrought desolations in the earth.

He makes wars to cease to the end of he earth;

He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;

He burns the chariots with fire.

Cease striving and know that I am God. 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 stronghold.”

Selah: meditate on this.

Psalm 46

The Scriptures are dynamic, aren’t they? Living and active. Amazing. How many times have I read this psalm? Hundreds. It is one of my husband’s favorites. Mine too. Today, as I read it, typed it out (no, I did not copy and paste it), and then re-read it, I saw it from a startlingly fresh angle: through the lens of the Korah boys who wrote and sang this psalm.* Hmm.

Like coaches, cheerleaders, the crowd, and the team all rolled into one unit, they claim courage: “We will not fear.” Courage even in the face of a worst case scenario of “trouble”:  worldwide earthquakes in which the trembling mountains melt into the consuming, bombastic sea. I believe this implies certain death. You’ll be folded like a noodle into this bubbling, blue cauldron.

No worries. “God is our refuge,” the Korah boys declare! “He is our strength,” they shout! He is not just near; He is “very near.” How near is very near?

The boys contrast the timidity of the mountains dissolving into a dramatic sea of hubris with the calm humility of the river of God flowing peacefully through God’s immovable, blessed city.

So much can be observed in this dynamic psalm. I’m struck by the contrast of scenes, themes, and voices.

Drama juxtaposed to stillness. Chaos clashes with order. Trust versus fear. Calmness overcoming worry. The alarming power of all creation dwarfed by the Omnipotent Almighty Creator.

Note another voice in this psalm. The coaching Korah boys’ affirmations crescendo at verse 10 as God’s voice breaks in.  First, His imperatives: “Be still” or “cease striving” and “know that I am God.” God is speaking to every singer and listener. He is speaking to us. (Notice how simple and possible “knowing” can be. It is a choice.) Then God claims, “I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” Is He exalted in my life?

It was the mesmerizing dance of the palm branches that I was enjoying as I relaxed alone in the lanai that brought my thoughts to this psalm. From palms to psalms.

Simultaneously, I live in both the material cosmos and the spiritual cosmos. This is the nature of the Christian life. I don’t have to travel anywhere to escape Indiana’s cold and this world’s chaos.

In whatever I am experiencing, I can locate a place in my heart to “cease striving,” “be still,” and “know” the I AM who is my God.

This pooch knows how to “be still.” She “knows.”

* For more information about the sons of Korah, check out the following:

Categories: Devotional, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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