It’s a new term to me – first introduced a short time ago when we Americans were told to stay home!
My home is indeed a shelter. In the middle of the Michigan mitten, about halfway between Detroit and Chicago, our country home becomes the perfect year-round shelter. Cool in summer, surrounded by sycamores with leaves larger than dinner plates and abundant maples with deep green leaves – thousands of leaves – all creating shade from the hot sun. Comfortably warm in winter, heated by a massive outdoor furnace, boiling and pumping water through pipes, radiating throughout the house. So the home itself is a greatly appreciated and welcomed shelter, but staying there – sheltering in place, day after day, week after week, month after month – is quite another thing, isn’t it?
Natural disasters draw me home. Man-made or mistakenly-spread disasters, such as COVID19, also draw me home. I feel safe, secure, and comfortable in my home. It’s where I most often want to be. But it’s not where I want to stay or truly shelter.
My body is comfortable to Shelter in Place,
but my spirit yearns for more.
When I became a Christian, I became a new person in spirit. And ever since, my spirit yearns to shelter in the Father. The Psalmist (Psalm 91) refers to that place of shelter as the secret place of the Most High God, El Elyon. And when we dwell, actually reside, in that secret place, we find rest. Rest of mind – peace – assurance. Isn’t rest what we really want? I do.
I look for that secret place.
I yearn for that secret place.
And I find that secret place.
The term secret place most often refers to the way our soul is in relationship with God. It is the place Jesus speaks of when he instructs us to go to a room with the door shut when we pray – a place of solitude with God – a place set aside for time alone with God. It is an intentional decision to spend time in the Word, praying and listening. God meets us there. It is in this secret place we discover Him as “our refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust.”
The stay at home order from our government is nothing like the stay at home offer from God. God doesn’t order it. He offers it.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1
Charles Spurgeon, renown preacher of old, wrote about this first verse of Psalm 91: “The blessings here promised are not for all believers, but for those who live in close fellowship with God . . . all do not dwell in the most holy place; they run to it at times, and enjoy occasional approaches, but they do not habitually reside in the mysterious presence. Those who [do] . . . become possessors of rare and special benefits, which are missed by those who follow [from] afar.” He refers to those believers who reside in God’s secret place as “constant guests,” remaining under God’s protection.
Psalm 27:5 tells us that in our days of trouble God will keep us safe in His secret place- He will hide us there and shelter us in place.
So, while I am in mid-Michigan, sheltering in place in my comfortable surroundings, my main focus will remain finding shelter, being a “constant guest,” in the Father’s secret place. That’s where I – and you – will find true refuge – not just through the COVID19 crisis, but every day – forever.
Look for Kathi’s other articles: Today’s new language. Informal discourse from a stay-at-home English teacher.