no other shelter

I will run and not grow weary
I will walk and not grow faint
You will be my shelter
protection from the rain
and when the waters rise,
I’ll stand and sing Your name
(from Hallelujah by Preson Philips)

This morning, the Lord calls out to me, “Take shelter. But take shelter in Me alone.”

I nod my head in gratitude for the shelter God offers and then duck under the closest, flimsiest umbrella. I recognize the beauty and mystery and grace of a covering that shields from the (often self-inflicted) storm, but then stand anchored beneath my own shoddy shelter. Christ promises shelter, but He doesn’t promise it apart from Him. He is the shelter. No other covering will do.

Why do we so often cling to the promises of the Bible, ask the Lord to be faithful, demand He come through in our time of need without understanding where all those promises are revealed: under His shelter.

Ray LaMontagne (brilliant musician) aches out his song, “Shelter,” and every phrase sings broken. He sets up a desperate need for shelter in the midst of terrible relational storm and then presents his best offering: one another. It’s beautiful and my heart hurts for it to be true so Ray can find some resolve. But, in the end he stands under his own (beautifully written) flimsy umbrella, convincing himself that it is enough.

Adam and Eve, exposed by their sin and separated from the perfect relationship they had enjoyed with the Father, scrambled to find something to cover them – to protect them from the shame they’d brought on themselves.

They forgot who made them. In an instant, they forgot who loved them, walked with them, and cared for their every need. They ran from their provider and rigged up their own covering.

They ran from the only One who could shelter them, hold them, love them through the shame and provide a covering that would satisfy.

For Adam and Eve, God did something they couldn’t have imagined – shed blood. The only adequate covering for their sin and shame came by way of sacrifice. This animal sacrifice was to point to the ultimate covering – Christ Himself – who would be the sacrifice that establishes our permanent shelter under the eternal roof of God our Father.

We reside underneath the covering the Lord built by way of His son, Christ. Christ is our shelter. All that is promised in Scripture is discovered, experienced, and enjoyed under this shelter. There is no other.

Why, then, do we remain obstinate? Why do we run about, scrambling to find the kind of shelter that won’t tumble in the storm?

The Psalmist writes in Psalms 103:2,

Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.

Our short-term memory sends us searching outside the Shelter. We forget the benefit of His protection and provision and we venture out into the storm with our arms covering our faces.

With Christ as our shelter, our arms are free to raise. We don’t need to worry about being exposed or weak, for we are under His shelter – covered by His protection. We are free to make ourselves most vulnerable in praise to our Deliverer who is our covering.

under His shelter I will
let LOVE fly like cRaZy

this & that

It’s raining/snowing and the murky sky suits this Thursday.
I don’t mean that today is despairing, but I do mean that today seems like one of those days where weighty thoughts find a rightful place in the front of my brain. Maybe it’s the ushering in of the Lenten season or perhaps the strange, brown winter we’ve been ambling through… but today is full of weight and maybe you’d like to carry it with me.

Honduras never left my heart, but these past few weeks it’s been intense with two huge fires. You might have heard the news stories about the prison fire and the central market fire. The fire in the market was 5 minutes from where I lived a few short months ago. My sister in Christ tells me to pray for open doors so ministries can reach out during this time. My heart is heavy.

As I try to reflect in prayer during Lent, this blog post by Brett McCracken with Lenten Prayer requests is especially helpful. Oh, that my heart would be situated in a place where I can hear from the Lord.

Now that I’m living in the States again, this whole season feels different. There is something about a Catholic/Latin culture that surprised my spirit around this time. Apart from soccer, the religious traditions surrounding Easter always caused my heart to slow and consider the cost. This blog post by Russell Moore, “Always Mardi Gras, Never Easter” reminds me I must readjust my cultural lens to understand how to engage in conversations with Catholics/Protestants here.

I thought this article “Give up the Gimmicks, Youth Pastors” was an excellent read. I struggle seriously with all the games/programs/bells/whistles that make up our youth outreach programs in the US (and to Christian youth in general). I just don’t know what the best method is to effectively “speak their language” without sacrificing the content they are more than ready to receive.

I know I’ve certainly wrestled with “Why?” questions when it comes to God’s sovereignty. Just last night, I met up with some friends and before I could sit down they told me they were arguing about reincarnation. Before the conversation got too far, I found out the one guy’s mom was a Jehovah’s Witness and he knew his theology. At one point, he looked at me cynically and said, “Oh, sure. It’s about “sovereignty” isn’t it? Right. God is “sovereign” and that’s why it’s okay to say He created everything only to let it go to crap so that He could save it?” Whew! I tried to meet him where he was at and encourage his questions, but when I read this article from DesiringGod.org, “Why Did God Let Paul Become a Murderer?” I thought about all the answers that are foolish to those who don’t believe in the cross. I need serious grace and faith to believe God will give the words that make sense in the right time to the right people.

Well, folks, that’s a lot of reading. I’ll repeat the challenge from my last “this & that” post: How can my knowledge of God inform my obedience in a way that leads to actions full of love in reponse to these things?

Last night, I spoke with one of my dear friends who is still living and working in Honduras. She shared about a time recently when she was so full of sadness – days of heavy, unrelenting sadness because of the brokenness she sees. We agreed that sometimes – precious, painful sometimes – God responds to our prayers to, “break our hearts for what breaks Yours,” by allowing us a sliver of His pain. We couldn’t handle any more than that, but if we are fervently praying, we shouldn’t be surprised when our hearts start to swell inside our chests. We shouldn’t wish it away either. Those moments are precious – gifts to draw near to Him and grieve all the ways we’ve mangled his magnificent design. And then, to pray for His purpose to be realized through us – that every nation, tribe, tongue will hear the glorious news of the Gospel. The news that sets the crooked straight and the broken mended.

even with heavy hearts, in the power of the resurrected Savior, we can

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

tethered

I think sometimes my heart sings when my words are confused and silent. Sometimes those songs my heart sings are a welcome tether to a soul too-often floating on the breeze. I don’t love the idea of tethers, but with a heart prone to wander, I’m well aware of my need.

In the middle of Monday night, a wretched 24-hour flu monster attacked from underneath my bed. My body ached. My head pounded (partially due to caffeine withdrawal). My gut wrenched. Sick. Sick. Sick.

Tuesday was a blur.

Wednesday I prayed God would show strong in my weakness and He was my tether. I shared with some beautiful ladies about God’s design for us as women – something He had planned from the very beginning to showcase His glory. God is so gracious to let me see Him in these faces – to let me watch Him move in my near-nauseous state.
What a gift to be tethered.

And when my soul drifts away, He is my tether.

I hope these songs encourage you today, reminding you of your need for a tether.
Don’t fight it, friends.

Home by Ginny Owens
 
Pilgrim by Preson Philips
 
Washed by the Water by NEEDTOBREATHE
 

let LOVE fly like cRaZy