Sometimes we make decisions we know to be best, even when we don't know if our feelings will follow. Being a practical Dutch woman, I can typically reason myself into a good decision and push forward even if it isn't my preference. I mean, I still cry like a baby, but I do what needs to be done.
This past winter we made the decision to move. It was a financial decision and I inwardly sighed because packing boxes eight times in thirteen years had been enough for me. Yet I knew it was the wise decision and a decision the Lord was blessing. I knew there would be things I could find to enjoy so I reasoned with myself and pushed ahead.
I passionately love this house.
I don't even have to convince myself. The other night I tucked my boys in down in their basement room and walked upstairs to discover the setting sun casting vibrant oranges and pinks over acres of ripe raspberries, with barns as a backdrop. I beelined for the porch with a blanket and journal, remembering that I once thought I would miss my enormous picture windows in my old house. My sweet farmhouse has too many things to love to notice what I might otherwise miss.
This past winter I attended an evening worship service, sneaking in the back alone during the first song with every intention of sneaking back out during the last song. I was thwarted in my quick exit by a woman I hadn't seen in nearly a decade. We live in the same town but don't attend the same church or often cross paths. She caught me and said, "I was sitting behind you during the service and felt like God was speaking to me about encouraging you. I was praying. I have no idea what's been going on in your life in the past decade but..."
She proceeded to share things that I thought the Lord was saying, but I had questioned. I was crying, wiping my nose, making a scene, when she said the image she had was of a steep cliff, but I was tucked safely in a cleft in the rock with the Lord covering and sheltering me. She reminded me of the Lord as my refuge and my foundation. She encouraged me to cling to Truth I know and stay the course.
Her words come back often and my Psalm has been the 91st,
"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust. Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler." Psalm 91:1-4
The Lord often gives me tangible things to commemorate His work and to remind me of who He is. This year He's blessed me with a tidy house on three acres. Tucked between raspberries, blueberries, and farmhouses I'm able to retreat into a secret place. In the quiet of my garden and in the trees where my kids climb the treehouse I am reminded of my Fortress and Refuge.
I was given the name "Shilo" which means, "Place of refuge; of rest or peace." In the past I've kicked myself for not living up to my name. Someone with so noble a name should be a safe, sheltering, refreshing place; someone you arrive at and say "ahh" as everything in you is accepted and understood, even with flaws exposed. If a person can embody the relief of "home" it seems it should be a Shilo.
The Lord convicted me that in myself I'm not able to live up to these traits, but in Himself He is ALL of these traits. When I am hidden in Him, when I am covered by Him and wearing His Truth as my shield, I can reflect Him as refuge.
I hunker down in a cleft and let Him do His work, ministering to a worn out me who left alone would helplessly drop from the face of the cliff. In Psalm 91 the Lord responds with verses 14-15,
"Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him."
God as my refuge isn't tied up in a place or in my name- it's who He is and what He provides when I depend on Him. Yet He's used both of those things to bring my attention to His character and what He does for me and in me.
I don't know what seasons are to come. I don't know how long I'll cozy up in my house on the border (but I am praying about that option to buy... when you've got a good thing...). I do know He is faithful in His promises. How that plays out in my life constantly surprises me, but it's still true.
Just throwing myself out there a bit...