My Help

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I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 121 ESV

Safety on the journey. And whoa, what a journey! Right? No matter who you are, no matter your station in life, you might feel at the moment like you’re stuck on the Titanic as it goes down, with the band continuing to play on one side, while your lifeboat lowers on the other. The problem? Your lifeboat only has room for one guy and 25 packages of toilet paper, his toilet paper. Seriously though, the one thing I won’t be doing this week is give you advice about a certain virus. We’re getting plenty of advice right now, some of it even from informed sources. By the time the current crisis has subsided, I’m certain we’ll all feel like we’ve earned a fistful of college credits toward a degree in epidemiology. Besides keeping up with that continuing education, there is one thing in particular I’m trying to focus on, my attitude. It’s easy to be judgmental toward people who are fearful. Depending on your situation and, let’s face it, simply your emotional makeup, you might have trouble relating to folks who are freaking out. If some of the long lines and short tempers are any indication, a lot of folks are just plain scared. Have you ever noticed how helpful you can be by telling someone who is freaking out, “Hey, stop freaking out!” Me neither. I believe I can do the most good as far as my reach goes by being prayerful, helpful, and compassionate towards those around me. If any of my words or actions don’t fall within those parameters, I’m just making noise. What did Paul call it? “A sounding brass or clanging cymbal.” 1st Corinthians 13 teaches me that’s not what love sounds like.

The second thing we can do is, like the Psalmist says, focus on where our help comes from, no matter the situation. When the people we love are frightened, sick, or in pain, our help comes from the Lord. When the institutions we rely on struggle to meet new challenges, our help comes from the Lord. When we ourselves grow tired, fearful, and lose patience with those around us, our help still comes from the Lord.

When life’s overwhelming
and I’m reminded of just how small
I truly am
I run to you great maker
caretaker
never forsaker

You’re the one I sing
Through the noise
your voice rings
never alone
no matter where I go
I’m always home
all encompassing God

© Joel Tipple 3/15/2020


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.
Amen


© Joel Tipple 10/19/2019