Finding Refuge in Troubled Times



This year may be remembered for the troubled times we live in. Hurricanes, floods, drought, fires, mass shootings, and threats of nuclear war have rolled in on us like ocean waves hitting the shore.

Recently a couple living in Northern California awoke to someone pounding on their door. A neighbor pointed to a wild fire burning not too far away. Quickly leaving, they started the 20-mile drive to his parents’ home, but the smoke was thick and every road seemed to be blocked. After hours of anxious maneuvering, they pulled into their parents’ driveway at 4:30 in the morning. You can bet that was a happy reunion and the couple was glad to find refuge.

Safari West truck

Another story out of Northern California also captured my interest. Safari West is a 400-acre nature refuge near Santa Rosa. Begun in the late 1980s by Peter Lang, it is home to a thousand exotic species, such as giraffes and hippos, cheetahs and rhinos. Visitors ride African safari trucks that wind through the hilly terrain. We were blessed to visit there two years ago.

When the Tubbs Fire became a danger, some of the birds and smaller animals were packed into the vehicles of guests and employees, who took them to safety. But that wasn’t an option for the larger animals. Lang, who is now 77, and his crew spent countless hours ensuring the animals were safe. He was, in fact, up all one night battling sparks from the fire. At one point he strung together 10 garden hoses to get water to a blaze that had started. Just a half mile away, Lang’s own home burned to the ground.

Giraffe seen from the truck at Safari West

Lang told a reporter from the San Francisco Press Democrat, “Leaving wasn’t even a decision. I have a thousand souls I’m responsible for.” Lang’s sacrificial love reminds me of the love God shows us.

Psalm 46: 1-3 states that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah.” NIV

Those verses seem especially timely for the days we live in. Did you get that—an ever present help in trouble? When we’re in a tough spot, the best thing we can do is turn to God for help and direction. He cares for our souls, and leaving us isn’t an option. He rescued us for eternity through his son, Jesus, and he continues to care for us as we face trials in our daily lives.

That mysterious word “Selah” at the end of the verse also has meaning. Although it is likely a musical rest, we might also take it to mean “stop and listen.” So let’s not wait until there’s an emergency. Let’s take time to spend with our Lord and Savior every day, stopping to listen for his wisdom and direction.

Writing Update

Sonvy Sammons and me doing our thing

Secrets of the Dark Closet has been out for two months. I’ve done four public book signings, plus a presentation with fellow writer. The publisher is just preparing to send out a big news release. The cover is finally showing on Amazon. The eBook is available. Life is good.

I’m delighted that Bismarck Public Library ordered two copies. One is already checked out of the Burleigh County Bookmobile and the other can be found on the New Book Shelf.

Early reviewers have been more than kind. There are seven 5-star reviews on Amazon! Many more wonderful comments have been made on Facebook and in person. I treasure each one. Keep them coming! I’m especially pleased when someone says “Bessie’s story is my story,” and those who can relate to her emotional journey.

The next planned event is The Big One Art & Craft Fair at the Bismarck Civic Center. This is a fun two-day event on November 17-18. Both Secrets of the Dark Closet and By the Banks of Cottonwood Creek will be for sale. Look for Booth # 84, where I’ll be with two crafty friends. Be sure to stop by if you are in town!