By Andrea Harris
Home – a safe place of refuge, peace, and unconditional love. Our individual experiences will either taint or enhance that picture for us.
I grew up in a home that was a safe shelter. Being in grade school in the 1960s meant I lived in a world very different than the one we know today. My parents were committed Christians, involved in a local church that was like an extended family. We also had relatives living in the same town – both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins. In many ways I was sheltered – my parents never swore and I didn’t even know what some swear words or slang expressions were until I was a teen and older (My husband had to inform me of a few!). I never saw anyone drunk until I was about 17. Sheltered? Yep. And thankful for it!
But the most important feature of our home was the unconditional love expressed there. My two older sisters and I were convinced of our parents’ love. They set certain expectations for us, but our parents always assured us of their love and forgiveness. My mom took her role as a full-time homemaker very seriously. She created a place for her family to find rest and refuge, to learn and grow, and to see hospitality on display. When sons-in-law and grandchildren were added to the mix, both my parents excelled in welcoming and loving them all.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’” (Psalm 91:1-2 ESV).
The writer in Psalm 91 describes a shelter that is available to all those who put their trust in God. I picture it like a safe and secure home, a place where I would always like to stay. But there is a requirement in order to enjoy this promised blessing. It is up to us to make God our dwelling place. He’s not moving, but we certainly can and do, at times. Verse 9 begins, “Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place – the Most High, who is my refuge…” If I choose not to spend time in God’s Word and prayer, I’m distancing myself from His shelter. If I choose to disobey and walk my own way, instead of following and even treasuring His commands and obeying them with my whole being, I’m losing out on the precious gift of His shelter and care.
If I had rebelled and run away from the loving security of my family home, I would not know the shelter it provided. In the same way, if I distance myself from my loving Heavenly Father, I forfeit the shelter that He offers. It’s a foolish choice for sure, but our obstinance and sin too often get in the way.
The other benefit of this shelter is that we are enabled to go out in God’s strength. My sisters and I grew up to be secure young women because of the strong foundation we had in our home. We could go out and do things our parents never did, secure in their love, and with a loving God as our true source of identity.
So are you choosing to dwell in the shelter of God’s unconditional love and generous forgiveness? Where are you choosing to dwell? Do you have opportunity to provide a shelter for the next generation?
I pray that we as Christ-followers will choose to abide in the shelter of our Almighty God.