The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9 NLT
A shelter can be a welcome sight—and it often was for me.
The Appalachian Trail—which extends from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin, Maine—is a two thousand plus mile trail dotted with shelters.
Per the Appalachian Trail Conference’s estimates, the number of hikers attempting a northbound thru-hike from Georgia to Maine has more than doubled in the past seven years, from 1,460 hikers in 2010 to 3,735 in 2017. Those attempting a southbound thru-hike has increased from 256 in 2010 to 489 in 2017 (http://ow.ly/Pqyh30o0uiU).
To help decrease their pack weight, some who thru-hike the trail don’t carry a tent and depend on the shelters to protect them from the elements and to provide a place to sleep, relax, read, wash clothes, and do other necessary things.
While their construction styles vary, every shelter I’ve visited was three sided. Some have fireplaces, but the missing side allows snow and rain to blow in during storms, predators—such as bears and raccoons—to enter at will, and cold and heat to penetrate. Still, sleeping in a shelter is better than lying on the ground during the cold months or in inclement weather.
I’ve slept in a few of the shelters, and one thing they’re not is comfortable—or even peaceful. They provide what is necessary, but no creature comforts. While better than nothing, they don’t begin to compare with a plush home. After all, those who stay there are backpacking and want to rough it in the wild.
The psalmist didn’t find his shelter of peace in a three-sided structure either, but in the Lord. He, too, as a lad, was an outside person. He tended sheep and also lived in the wilderness in caves for a time while running from a jealous king. He knew a thing or two about shelters.
As a shelter, God shelters us with peace from sin and its dangers. When we ask, He forgives our sin and restores us to a right relationship with Him. Forgiveness shelters us from the eternal consequences of rejecting Him. He also promises not to let temptations become so intense that we can’t walk away from them with His help. These blessings bring peace.
God shelters us through life’s disappointments—and they are many. He won’t take them all away. They may often have a place in His plan for our lives. But He will shelter us from the damaging emotional effects if we turn to Him instead of other things.
God also shelters us through periods of brokenness. When we’ve lost a job, a child, a spouse, a reputation, peace, or friends. He gives a peace that surpasses our understanding.
Unlike the Appalachian Trail shelters, God’s shelter is fully enclosed, warm, peaceful, and always available. Run there often for the peace you seek.