Just past midnight I awoke to the piercing bark of a dog who hates thunderstorms. Said dog lives in tornado alley. An unfortunate situation. I lie there, avoiding leaving the bed at all costs. But, the thunderstorm rolled in, fast and intense. Loud crashing of clouds, bright flashes of energy. And when the barks matched the intensity of the storm, he was picked up. Reluctant, bare feet heavy on a cool, wood floor. A scratch on the head, exasperated words of “it’s just a storm, dog.” He was placed in his kennel. The door shuts, the latch slides. The storm continues, crashing all around us, but the barking suddenly silent. The only sound remaining is the storm raging. The rain pelting the roof and windows, the thunder breaking through a previously silent night. The wind whistling it’s song.
When COVID-19 is a thing of the past, the storms will continue to come, just as they have before. Only when I take that last breath on earth and open my eyes in the presence of my beautiful King, will the true stillness come. Only then, I think, will we feel a true inhale. But while my feet walk the well worn paths of this earth, shelter will be needed. Dare I say required.
Like my dog, where do we go to find safety in the storm? Where do we sit, shut the door, close the latch, and allow the peace to settle?
The amazing thing about God is that He watches us, follows us. Individualizes His love for you because you are His child. He never leaves us, never forsakes us. Wherever you are, His loving eyes are upon you. This means that wherever I am, His shelter is over me. Available to me. I do not have to search for it. I do not have to go out into the world for it, looking for all the ways that will make me feel safe, loved, secure. I do not have to “shelter in place” for it, hiding from an enemy who is trying to find a way in. Hiding from a virus who clings to a grocery bag. Building walls that temporarily feel secure.
None of that is necessary. I simply have to invite Him into the storm. And there, under the shadow of His wings, I will find refuge.
There is a safety in Him that nothing in this world can ever provide. It will try, but it will fail. Without a shelter as strong as the God of the universe, the fear overwhelms. Joy is suffocated by thoughts of worry and what if, and the beautiful sound of laughter can be silenced.
Without a safe place, the storm will destroy, whether by a slow wearing away or a sudden high wind that blows it all to debris in one gust. And if my only safety is the brick and mortar of my home, then I have no true shelter at all. Walls have cracks, and one storm can tear a house to it’s foundation. Jobs fail. People disappoint; I disappoint myself. Grief crushes. But, the mighty arms of the Father hold me together when everything falls apart. His wings like an eagle give me shade in a parched place. His strong right hand, always there, waiting to help me find my feet when I have fallen. His very Spirit going before me to fight my battles. His word in my mind and on my lips, a meditation that quickly evaporate the fear of the world.
His shelter. The only true shelter. A hiding place. A place of refuge. A place of freedom.
Because the beautiful thing about trusting Him as my shelter, is that the storm still rages. My dog still heard the thunder boom and the rain fall. He saw the lightning change the night sky, but once in his safe place, his peace overcame his fear. And that is what God offers. A peace in the middle of the storm. A shelter no enemy can destroy. A place to safely watch the storm pass.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God...your Savior.”
Isaiah 43: 2-3