We rented a ranch cabin for a few days of spring break. It sat on a remote cliff, more than a mile off a dirt road, overlooking the mid-Texas plains and foothills, surrounded by only sky and earth.
Our plans were to escape the city and and spend a few days hiking miles of trails though the brush and prickly-pear, and our nights stargazing and roasting marshmallows. There wasn’t even a television there (with three kids; let that sink in).
But, in the way that plans often go, it rained. Every. Single. Day.
And often it didn’t just rain- it STORMED.
Early one morning, I awoke in the loft to the raging sounds of one of these storms. Rain and wind were beating at the house, thunder echoing behind them.
I burrowed deeper under the blankets, marveling at the intensity of the energy and force just beyond the walls and windows.
Surrounding me on all sides. But not reaching me.
Were I an arm’s-length away on the opposite side of the wall, I would be drenched, wind-whipped, freezing. I would be struggling to protect myself from the elements.
And here I was – same isolated landscape, same open territory – experiencing it completely differently. I was dry and safe. I was able to observe the storm without it overcoming me.
The difference was shelter.
As I listened to the storm in the dark, I thought about God.
I thought: this. This is why I pursue faith.
We’re all on the same landscape. My belief in God doesn’t alter the storms or keep them away.
But it can be a shelter.
My faith is so imperfect. It leans and leaks. I often wonder if it’s beyond repair, or when I’m going to get serious enough and just build the structure all anew.
But that morning, I was so glad I hadn’t walked away and abandoned it. I saw my need for it so clearly.
It is so much better to be in a work-in-progress shelter than fully exposed to the storm.
I know it’s not a perfect analogy. But as lightning struck close and, in a breath, thunder responded – and me, just a wall and roof away from it all – I whispered my thanks to God for reminding me one of the reasons I persist in matters of faith and doubt, questions, and the law of love.
Christ is the promise of shelter.
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.