Our Refuge in the Less Than Hallmark


Thoughts at Christmas Time
Part Three of Four


He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
Psalm 91:1-2, 4 (NKJV)

We put up our Christmas tree today. Then we sat back and watched our kitty, Mr. Shadow, make it his own personal jungle gym—with the promise of tangled lights and garland and strewn ornaments to come. It was a restful afternoon with a fire in the fireplace and soft Christmas hymns playing in the background. It was preceded by a morning spent with the dearest of friends. We did some ministry work together, sharpened and encouraged each other in Christ, and bathed each other in prayer. Now, I’m closing out the day under the glow of Christmas tree lights with the one I love most, the one with whom I’m celebrating forty-five years of marriage and counting. And thankful!

I absolutely love Christmas. I love the hymns, the tree, the lights, the garland, kitty messing with the tree. I love how the holiday brings people together. I love its smells of cinnamon and cloves and evergreens, the baking, the family traditions, and the snow. Well, at least the snow that used to come. White Christmases around here are not as frequent as they used to be. Still, I just love the whole season, the whole atmosphere. But despite all that, and even in my thankfulness, this Christmas, I feel a little subdued.

As I sit here penning these words, I feel the weight of the unrest and devastation happening in other places. Closer to home, we’re experiencing homegoings, illnesses, life and relationship struggles, hardships, and consequences of choices invading the lives of those we care so much about—many we minister to and with. Even closer to home, we’re entrusting our deployed granddaughter into His capable hands. Closest to home, we’ve received some of our own hard news over which we’re seeking shelter under His wings. All these things tug at my heart, and I am reminded that Christmas is not always like a Hallmark movie.

We have a Christmas tradition in our home that stems back to one of our earliest Christmases. Before putting traditional ornaments on the tree, we hang a special one: a long, heavy-duty nail. It’s a reminder to us of what the most important aspect of the Christmas season is. It’s all about the cross and a Savior who hung there by only a few nails and a whole lot of love. Without the cross, Christmas would hold no more meaning than just another unknown baby’s birthday somewhere in some distant land. From the moment Jesus took His first step as a toddler, He began to march toward a distant hill with you and me on His mind. It occurs to me that He had all the same life issues going on around Him that we all have. Yet, it did not deter or hinder Him from His mission. He was safe under the shadow of His Father’s wings.

The psalmist in today’s verses speaks of the “Most High” as the secret place where he, too, has taken up residence. For him, God is not a temporary B&B to visit once in a while or a stopping place on a journey to elsewhere. The Almighty is his permanent home. The psalmist has put down stakes and has driven them deep into the most secret place of God. Only here in this place alone can he find true rest, refuge, and protection. The storms still rage around him; the rain still beats down hard, the deafening thunder still reverberates off the mountains and across the canyons, and the blinding lightning still flashes across the sky, illuminating everything in its path. The ground still shakes, and the fiery darts still fly, but under God’s wing, under His feathers, in His shadow, the psalmist is safe. Our Most High God beckons you and me to that safe, secret spot with Jesus under the shelter of His wings.

That nail on our tree—usually, we hide it deep within the tree’s branches. The one who finds it first gets the first candy cane. This year, we put it front and center. Illuminated by the lights, it stands out, calling me to savor each moment of this Christmas. Though storms are raging all around me and in the lives of those I dearly love, and though I have no idea what the next moment will hold, I can honestly say I’m at peace. Because I know firsthand the benefits of being under the shelter of His wings: it is warm, and it is safe.

Father, Thank You for being my place of safety and refuge. The place in which I can hide in the midst of storms. Drive my stakes deep for me. Never let me pull them up. No matter what’s happening around me, from the distant to the closest, I choose You as my shelter. Thank You for Your unspeakable gift of Christmas, the stepping stone to the cross and Resurrection morning. I love You, Lord!

In Him,
Donna Perkins




Sweet Selah Ministries

To inspire a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing
Him matter most—and will be reflected in more effective work and service

To offer biblical resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

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