Shelter-in-place, Stay-home. Lockdown. Different words, similar effect!
We all face the same storm. Our movements have been severely curtailed. We’re confined in a fixed space called “home.” I don’t remember ever being compelled to stay-home over such long periods.
And guess what? Even when governments lift the restrictions, many of us may self-restrict ourselves. Our care-free ways may be a thing of the past!
So, you may have experienced varying degrees of “cabin fever” - irritability, discomfort, and stress from confinement indoors. Family members are unaccustomed to having each other around 24/7. It’s easy to step on each other’s toes. Arguments can be sparked. Relationships can breakdown.
Underlying this also lurks concerns, worries, and fears about employment, business, finances, health, and the future. Those in ministry may also face support and sustainability issues.
What do we do?
We’re in uncharted waters. Some of our challenges are serious. Many men and women in biblical times similarly experience profoundly serious crises. Oftentimes, theirs are far more serious than ours. Their lives, not just livelihoods, were at risk. Think of Moses, David, Daniel, Paul and others.
May I share some encouraging thoughts to lift our spirits as we respond to our challenges.
Interestingly, the Bible speaks of Shelter in God! Psalm 91 says:
1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
These are words of response to serious challenges – deadly pestilence, plague, fear, danger, sustainability, survival, life and death, etc.
We face these now, don’t we? How do we stay safe? How do we provide for our loved ones when income sources may be disrupted? What will be the future?
Often, we turn to God when we’re at our wits end. As the Source of everything, God should be our first resort. He is honoured when we rely on Him. Perhaps, this pandemic is the call to us, the church and the world to return to the Source, Creator and Giver of life.
The emphasis in the two short verses above is clearly on God. He is called:
“the Most High” or Elyon (which speaks of God who is supreme and pre-eminent over all)
“the Almighty” or Shaddai (which speaks of God who supplies and sustains)
“the LORD” or Yahweh (which speaks of God who revealed His personal name and is relational)
“my God” or Elohim (which speaks of the God of Genesis 1:1 who created everything)
God is not just the best Shelter. He is the only Shelter!
We honour God, as we turn, first and foremost, to Him. He is the right and only Source of life and eternity. He is the One -- who is pre-eminently over all beings, who created all things, who has all the power to sustain us, and who enables us to relate to Him personally. There is none like Him.
He is the One, “in whom I trust.” But how?
We can do it in one moment of renewed surrender. A moment where we give up on ourselves, however, experienced or inexperienced, successful or unsuccessful, and rich or poor we may be. A moment where we put our agenda, our concerns, our worries, and our fears at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ. A moment where gratefulness fills our hearts as we thank God for His faithfulness. A moment where God is God again in our hearts. Is He?
And yes, we may need to come back to such moments from time to time -- as we are prone to wander and trust in our own abilities, resources, and selves.
Let’s get into the shelter of God, drawing on His faithfulness, protection, and provision -- for us and our loved ones. He is the One who will shelter us well through the storms of life.
Shelter has also an important flipside!
While we look to God as our Shelter, others also look to us as their shelter!
So, what do they see? Do they see us confidently taking shelter in God? Do they see us worrying? What’s our level of graciousness, patience, kindness, and humility? Do we reflect unconditional love? Are we willing to give without expecting a return? How can we incarnate love in practical ways they appreciate?
This is challenging too.
Hence, will you join me in prayer for God’s help:
“Almighty God our heavenly Father, we humbly turn to you as our only Shelter in life. Forgive our pride, self-sufficiency, and sins. Renew our trust in you. Help us to surrender ourselves. Reign in our hearts. Protect and provide for our loved ones, our church and us. Strengthen our relationships. Help us to be a good shelter to our loved ones and others. I ask this, for Your glory, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”