All of us search for them.
Sometimes we find them.
And we want to stay.
But ofttimes we can't.
Safe places may include people.
They may not.
They may be close by.
They may be far away.
Safe places may be literal places or emotional ones.
Safe places may be easy to run to or difficult to access.
We can be refreshed in our safe places.
We can be strengthened after a visit to our safe places.
We can be real in our safe places.
We can find God in our safe places.
My safe places vary but one of mine is my walk-in closet.
Strange, I know. But it's my "at-home" safe place.
There I can hide away...away from the outside world...
and I can surround myself with things of comfort without fear of judgment.
There I can cry, pound Michael's clothes in frustration, or pray with my face to the floor...
And no one can hear me.
Another safe place for me is where I am now.
I brought my children with me and we are staying with family who have become best friends.
We have been here for a little over a week, the goal being refreshment, relaxation, and rejuvenation before we head into the memory-fraught holidays which will be closely followed by the one-year anniversary of Michael's homegoing.
These friends have known all the good, the bad, and the ugly of the past four years and I've never once felt an ounce of critical judgment from them.
Instead, they have made million-mile trips to be with us in time of crisis, they have carried us in prayer and listened to me sobbing over the phone. They have opened their home to us many times and begged us to come here so they can take care of us for a little while.
This family is one of my safe places...
These coming weeks terrify me. The memories of Michael's rapidly failing health have already been haunting me.
So the idea of some time in my safe place seemed logical...appealing...and, well, safe.
So...here I am. This week has been wonderful!
But as with all good things, this, too, must come to an end.
Why can't we sequester ourselves eternally in our safe places?
Why doesn't God let us?
Maybe it's because if we did, we would remain focused on ourselves...
...our own needs and desires...
We would never be urged to reach outside ourselves.
We would never be able to touch the lives of those around us.
We would also never be blessed by the lives of those around us.
We must become vulnerable in order to give and receive
what each of us desires most...love.
So tomorrow, I must leave this safe place, this retreat, and head back home to my responsibilities,
my memories, my struggles, my ministries...
...my blessings! my beautiful home! my loving family members! my support group!
...my memories...of the good times...of the ways in which God has shown His care and mercy...of the love and laughs shared!
I will cry as I leave, but as much as I want to stay, I know I can't.
Because if I did, I'd never witness just how dependable my God is.
If I did, I'd never know just what I'm capable of through God's grace and strength.
If I did, I'd never experience the helpfulness of the support group God has provided for us.
If I did, I'd never be able to testify to the faithfulness of God to keep and protect, to be a Father to the fatherless and a Husband to the widow.
So I'll go. And I'll know that another time, when I need it, this safe place will be available to me again...but for a short time only.
Because that's the way it has to be until I reach that ultimate Safe Haven where Jesus Himself is the Light....where there is no pain...where there are no tears...where there is no darkness...
...and I'll NEVER EVER EVER have to leave...
Longing for that day with every fiber of my being,