Shelter in Place

Have you ever been forced to live on the street or in your car? I haven’t, but whenever I see someone I think may not have a home, I wonder how I would feel if I was in their place. It’s easier to imagine you’re strong when you have enough to eat and a safe place to be. Thank God for places like the Eureka Rescue Mission, where people, who, because of circumstances, poor decisions, or a combination of both, find themselves homeless, are able to take advantage of a safe, temporary shelter, where they are able to eat, get warm, and obtain Godly direction. Though you may have worked hard to be able to afford to own or rent a home, the realization that your situation could change in a heartbeat should cause you to reflect and be thankful for what you have and empathize with those who are not in your situation.

Webster’s Free Online Dictionary defines “permanent” as: continuing or enduring without fundamental or marked change and “shelter” as: something that covers or affords protection. So, a permanent shelter is something durable (enduring) that provides cover or protection.

When disaster strikes an area, public safety officials sometimes give advisories or orders to the population within that area to “shelter in place.” That is, finding a safe location indoors and staying there until you are given an “all clear” or told to evacuate. This may also be called for during a time when violence or the threat of violence is present.

There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.
Isaiah 4:6 ESV

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

We use weather references a lot when we talk about how our lives are going. Christians especially talk about storms when discussing the trying times we all go through. During those times of great upheaval in our lives it’s critical we know how to shelter in place spiritually. Our shelter then is our experience of knowing God through prayer, scripture, and teaching. If we have built a strong foundation by seeking God when the sun is shining, we will have a safe and reliable place to go when it isn’t. More than that, each of us needs to carry a spiritual shelter that can provide refuge and protection for those around us. For those who follow Jesus we need Godly wisdom and knowledge to best help them with their walk. For non-Christians we need to pray for opportunities to lead them to the Lord.

God, you’ve always been home when I needed shelter. You also sheltered me when I didn’t know how vulnerable I was. Help me to never take for granted the refuge of the shelter I know and the shelter that is there for me wherever I am.

© Joel Tipple 10/19/2019

Cardboard Signs

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
Isaiah 58:10 ESV

And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”
Luke 3:11 ESV

Everyday I see you.
In all kinds of weather.
Searching eyes.
On your regular corner
with your regular message
on your cardboard sign.

In the back of my mind,
where it’s not as painful
as the front would be,
I wonder if the six and sixteen year old you
were like the six and sixteen me.

Did your mom love you?
Did she make sure you had treats after school?
Did your dad yell too much?
Did he play ball with you?
Did things go awry later on?
Or were they bad always?

Am I that different?
What if the wind had blown from the other side of the compass
on the day I was born?
What if the breadwinner in your family hadn’t lost their job?
What if you hadn’t fallen in love with drugs?
What if you hadn’t just stopped caring
about anything?
What if you could abide being inside?
What if you thought you could live with people?
What if the bombs that went off in ’68
finally ceased their echo?

I have no interest in assessing blame.
I’m not so naive as to assume
you want to be me.
I can’t say you didn’t choose this life.
I just don’t know why someone would.
I just don’t know.

I won’t settle this in my mind tonight.
I don’t know that I ever will.
But that’s okay,
because I don’t think God wants us to be “comfortable”
with cardboard signs
and searching eyes.

© Joel Tipple