Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling."
Part of being able to keep on keeping on when it seems like the struggle will never end is being able to identify places of refuge. To identify places where you can find respite. A temporary rest to sustain you. To keep you from being overwhelmed.
A place to find refuge.
Refuge carries the idea of resting in the center of a heavily fortified base. Of hiding in the center of a large fortress. Deep in the caves at Helm's Deep, with the walls intact, the gates down, the drawbridges up, and guards at every station.
Of being in the center of the storm in a building you know can withstand it, for it has withstood much worse.
Of the story of the lighthouse keeper at La Jument.
La Jument is a famous lighthouse built on a rock off the coast of Brittany in France. This lighthouse was built in 1911, 300 meters from the shore, in an area that is heavily trafficked and subject to heavy storms.
The lighthouse became well known due to a series of photographs taken by Jean Guichard. During one infamous storm on December 21, 1989, Guichard had hired a helicopter to take pictures of the severity of the storm. The low pressure front blowing in from Ireland, was bringing gale force winds and causing waves up to 20 to 30 meters to crash on the lighthouse. Despite the severity of the storm and danger in doing so, Guichard was determined to fly over the sea for his pictures. He made it to La Jument and hovered around to take photographs of the lighthouse.
Inside, lighthouse keeper Theodore Malgorn heard the helicopter and went downstairs to see what was going on. This lead to an incredible series of shots where Guichard was able to capture the initial calmness of Malgorn, looking out of the lighthouse despite the raging sea around him.
It captures the faith in the sturdiness of the lighthouse, knowing that it will hold against the waves. That there is security and refuge in the lighthouse.
But this still image above, does not capture the whole story. Malgorn saw the waves, saw the helicopter, but also knew he could not stand out there throughout the storm. The rest of the photographs show him quickly running back inside. Malgorn knew that the security was inside the structure of the lighthouse, not out on the edge. "If I had been a little further away from the door, I would not have made it back into the tower. And I would be dead today. You cannot play with the sea."
The same is true with us in our struggles. We have repeated promises that we have refuge in God. The He will provide us rest. That He will sustain us.
But, we have to run back into the Father. We can't stay out on the edge.
We can't be half in and half out, looking at the storm raging around us while still trying to keep a foot in our refuge. We find our full security, our full sustenance, our full refuge when we are fully in Him.
And refuge brings so many benefits. It brings rest. It brings sustenance. It brings life.
It's home - where we can fully be ourselves and be known.
And with that, I worry that we have far too many churches that are portraying an improper picture of God's refuge.
Think about it - would you describe your church as a refuge?
Can you be fully yourself at your church? Or is there an image you have to fit? A type you have to be?
Do you feel fully known at your church?
Those are the hard questions that we as believers have to answer. To become support for everyone seeking refuge. To show that He is the one, true source of refuge.
For that is the miracle. Even if none of our buildings could be called it. Even if none of our groupings are showing it. He is the perfect refuge.
That is worth celebrating and that is worth running to.
In the middle of the waves, He is faithful and secure.
Run to back in to Him.
"I've carried a burden for too long on my own
I wasn't created to bear it alone
I hear Your invitation to let it all go
I see it now, I'm laying it down
And I know that I need You
My heart has been in Your sights
Long before my first breath
Running into your arms
Is running from life to death
And I feel this rush deep in my chest
Your mercy is calling out
Just as I am You pull me out
And I know that I need You now
Run to the Father, I fall into grace
I'm done with the hiding, no reason to wait
My heart needs a surgeon, my soul needs a friend
So I'll run to the Father again and again and again and again"
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