On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
2020 is the year that the CDC pleaded with us to “shelter in place” in an effort to protect ourselves and others from the looming danger of a potentially deadly virus. Though it has felt isolating and often burdensome, we are naturally bent toward “sheltering.” Scripture calls it taking refuge. The Psalmists frequently invite us to “take refuge” during storms and impending danger. It is like they are standing in the doorway of a brick house during a hail storm calling us out of the elements and into safety. These storms happen everyday, from which we keep looking for refuge.
- The storm of COVID
- The storm of financial problems
- The storm of broken relationships
- The storm of nauseating sin
- The storm of addictions
The world gives us infinite (and often very helpful, though temporary) places of refuge during these storms: masks, grief counseling, financial planning, AA, prescriptions. These can truly help when the hail is raining on our heads. But there has to be more. There has to be a Real Refuge because the storms just don’t stop, and The Storm of Sin, Fear and Death is pressing in.
In my regular everyday life, while I am taking appropriate shelters, I need two more things:
- Ask what unhealthy shelters am I taking, which takes on two elements?
- Some shelters are simply sin:
- Jumping into an inappropriate relationship (or porn) just to feel loved.
- Financial impropriety to get out of debt
- Lashing out at others to gain control
- Some shelters might be overboard:
- Never going into public to ensure I don’t get sick.
- Not confronting sin so that I don’t rock the boat.
- Taking a pill for every malady.
- Some shelters are simply sin:
- Seeing and enjoying the Lord as my refuge.
- “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
- “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:4
- “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Jn 14:27
I am painfully aware that this can feel like shallow placating. I need something more than “just trust God” and “but God will work this out for your good.” Yes, those are true. But when I am being beaten down by the hailstorm, I need something I can actually hold onto.
In 2018 Fiona Simpson of Australia was caught with her baby in a massive hailstorm that began to break through the windows. In sacrificial love she laid over her child and was brutally beaten by the hail. She and her baby survived, but she was left with horrible injuries all over her body.
This is what I can hold onto: God himself has done infinitely more than what Fiona did for you and me on the cross. The storm of death was raining down, and so he covered himself over us, taking the hit of death itself. We still get pummeled in this life with relational trauma, abuse, sin, slander, ruin. He has proven his immeasurable love for me on the cross, and therefore Paul can tell us (Paul, the one who was beaten, slandered and continually faced death and pain) in Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
So what does this mean? Most of us Westerners (me included) have been brainwashed to believe that the utmost goal of life is being safe and comfortable. It is this mindset that determines the type of refuges we create and “rest” in. God has actually told us over and over that sin WILL cause us real pain, discomfort, injustice. Our bodies will decay and our relationships will cause heartbreak, but God has already made all things right and is calling us to begin living the resurrected life now. This is what Easter is about. The cross wasn’t the finale. It defeated sin and the resurrection defeated death.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”