Peaches’ Bone

We have a staff dog named Peaches at my church. She is a little mixed breed who is always happy to see us as we come through the door. (Except for one staff member, who keeps threatening to send her to the pound. We think he’s joking, but Peaches isn’t taking any chances.) She barks until she ascertains that you belong there; then she offers her small, warm tummy for free rubs.

Peaches attends staff meetings, and it’s good to have her there if the conversation gets tense, WHICH OF COURSE IT NEVER DOES BECAUSE WE ARE A CHURCH STAFF. (OK, well hardly ever.) She goes around the room as we talk, and helps herself to a piece of the couch that seems the friendliest. Soon enough, the staff member seated there will find themselves with lap full of Peaches. There is nothing better in a meeting than the warmth of a happy little dog.

Peaches has taken to hiding her bone in the chair in my office. My office is located in the back of the building, farthest from the busy front area. I discovered her hiding place one Sunday when I was meeting with a prospective church member. I was focused on greeting him, and when I sat down, I did not expect a sharp poke in my lower back. It was a Princess and the Pea moment. As I dug through the back of the cushion, I discovered Peaches’ bone. Now I look before I sit. I’m not sure who Peaches is hiding her bones from, as nobody on the staff really wants one. But Peaches understands the value of a good hiding place.

Psalm 27

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.

For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.

It is good to know that on the day of trouble, God is our hiding place. He will keep us safe from harm in his dwelling. He will set us upon a high rock where we can spot trouble coming from a long way off.

Worship happens in the house of the Lord in places commonly referred to as sanctuaries. For one hour a week, God offers a place of refuge and respite from the trouble that the world gives. We have a brief sabbath from the normal routine when we get to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and hopefully think of nothing else.

As important as that one hour is, God’s dwelling is everywhere, and the shelter of his sacred tent is available at any moment of any troubled day. HE is our hiding place. When we open scripture or go to him in prayer, we enter into his temple, where peace and safety abide.

What is troubling you today? What do you wish to hide from so that you might catch your breath and regenerate? When hard times come, it is good to know where to turn. God is your rock, your salvation, and your 24/7 sanctuary. Flee to him in your time of trouble. His door is always open.

Peaches and Her Hiding Place by Amy Berge

When the Sound Returns

Winds and storms in the Outer Banks are notorious for causing flooding. As my hairdresser explained while holding up a comb, “the Outer Banks are as thin as this comb, with the huge ocean on one side and the huge sound on the other…it is literally THIS thin!” she exclaimed. Indeed, there are parts of Highway 12 south on Hatteras Island where you could throw a football with your feet in the water of one and hit the water in the other. At high tide. If your name is Trace McSorley.

The dynamics of this ribbon of land between two massive bodies of water are especially heightened during hurricanes, Nor’easters, and large storms. The winds are capable of literally pushing the water out of the sound to the point where you can walk across its muddy bottom. The Albemarle and Pamlico sounds are 2,900 square miles of water fed by ten major rivers and numerous creeks. They are large enough that in certain locations, you can stand at one of the few points on the East Coast where you have unobstructed views of the sun setting into water with no land in sight. In fact, the Spanish explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano mistook the Pamlico Sound for the Pacific Ocean when he arrived here. It’s that big.

So the conundrum of the winds pushing all the water out during a storm is this: When it returns, it can come back with such force that it will create massive sound-side floods and high water that can cause more damage than the storm itself.

This is the way we live. This has been part of the cost of the beauty of our location for centuries. We know how it works, and we wait, often for days. I read a meme on Face Book recently that said, “Waiting for a hurricane is like being stalked by a turtle.” It is the not-knowingness of the situation that will slap wear you out.

I think this echoes what many people experience in other ways. A test result is suspicious, so further testing must be done. Wait. A spouse has been unfaithful and the couple doesn’t know if divorce will be the answer. Wait. A terminal diagnosis has been given, with a two-to-four year life sentence. Wait. A young woman receives an engagement ring and begins to plan her wedding and dreams of her married life. Wait. Another finds out she is pregnant. Wait. A military family sends their service member off for months to an unknown destination. Wait.

Psalm 27 (NRSV)

13 I remain confident of this:

    I will see the goodness of the Lord

    in the land of the living.

14 Wait for the Lord;

    be strong and take heart

    and wait for the Lord.

David’s assurance that he would see goodness in the land of the living is a pretty bold statement, considering the fighting going on all around him and the fervor with which his enemies were pursuing him. Just a few sentences earlier, he describes his situation this way:

2 When the wicked advance against me

    to devour me,

it is my enemies and my foes

    who will stumble and fall.

3  Though an army besiege me,

    my heart will not fear;

though war break out against me,

    even then I will be confident.

I would say he was under a fair amount of stress, wouldn’t you? Yet he counsels us to wait for the Lord, be strong, take heart, and WAIT. How can David be so sure? Because David was a man after God’s own heart. He knew the Lord, loved the Lord, danced for the Lord, and had a lot of experience in waiting and being delivered.

So while you wait, do not fear. In this in-between time of not-knowingness, don’t let your heart be troubled, and neither let it be afraid. God is mightier than the besieging army, faster than your foes, and stronger than the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds combined. When the Sound returns, you will see the goodness of the Lord.

The Pamlico Sound bottom, waiting for the water’s return. Photo by Tim Fitch.