Slightly Obsessed #138: Do You Long for a Refuge?
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge.
– Psalm 18:2
The school bus groaned to a stop, flung open its doors, and belched out two children.
The boy bounded up the driveway to freedom like a foal let out to pasture.
The girl followed slowly up the gravel driveway toward home, lugging an armful of schoolbooks and a flute case. Her small shoulders sagged under the weight of unseen sorrows inflicted during a long day at school. She was never smart enough, pretty enough, or bold enough to survive the hall gauntlet with her soul intact.
Because she was little for her age, she was an easy target for the school bullies. The boy with whom she was eternally paired in class because their last names were in alphabetic association made her life miserable. The girls weren’t much better. Her parents fought to make the school stop the bullying, but that just made it worse when the kids found out.
Day in, day out, the assaults continued. There was no place to turn, no way of escape.
At the house she dumped her books on her bed, changed her clothes, and retreated outside into the sunshine. She found her calico cat Roseanne, scooped her up, and headed for her favorite old apricot tree. She shinnied up the tree with the cat and curled up in its rough branches. There, in her refuge, she held Roseanne against her face and let the tears fall.
The little girl was me, and that old apricot tree was my refuge.
I eventually outgrew the tree, and my kitty died, but my search for refuge continued. I married a wonderful man, built a lovely home, and had five amazing children. Ultimately, though, I discovered what I really needed was a refuge transcending time and relationships.
I needed God.
Finding Him has given me the safe place I longed for all my life. In Him I have found unconditional love, eternal life, and a place to run when this world gets ugly. For all who are tossed around by the inhumanity around us, He is the rock, the fortress, our apricot tree.
In return, He has called us to reach out to others in His name. Only Christ is the true fortress, but we can offer His compassion and strength to those who are hurting. Our spouses, children, friends, and families should feel safe with us. Our homes can be shelters from the storms. Our hearts can be the place to where others want to run.
Like the old tree, our branches can cradle and comfort those who suffer, until they find their God.
Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy, Now I will arise,’ says the LORD; ‘I will set him the safety for which he longs.’