Thursday, February 11, 2010

Shelter In Place

When the Red Cross starts sending out advisories to your area, you realize this is not your typical snow. Mid-Atlantic weather forecasters describing snow in “feet” instead of “inches” is cause for throwing the Washington, D.C. metro area into a complete panic. As people rushed around buying up every gallon of milk and loaf of bread that was not nailed down, the authorities tried to prepare residents for the coming storm.

Then the Red Cross weighed in with their advisory. Even after going through three hurricanes in a six week period in Florida during 2004, I do not remember hearing these exact words before:

“Be prepared to shelter in place for 3 to 5 days.”

My first response was to try and think about exactly what that would mean. Okay, so the weather is cold, the snow is piling up and we literally cannot go anywhere. For days. What would we need? Was our home secure against the storm? How would I prepare our shelter? What would it look like to shelter in place?

To prepare for a snow storm, my priorities revolved around food, accessible firewood in case we lost power, plenty of batteries, flashlights and bottled water. But what happens when other types of storms enter my life? Where will I find my shelter then?

You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.
Isaiah 25:4 (NIV)

As a woman, I do not lack for storms in my life. Children, jobs, marriages, moves, elderly parents, broken things, illnesses and other storms can arise with little or no warning. Sometimes, the Red Cross will not step in and warn me of approaching storms. So the question for me becomes, will I be ready? How do I prepare?

1. My security has to be in God and God alone. Every other source, no matter how reliable, has the potential for failing me. God is my true and trustworthy shelter in the storms that life can bring. Only God can back up the statement, “I will never leave you, never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b – NIV)

2. I need to turn my fears over to God, sometimes repeatedly. If there is one lesson the Lord keeps bringing back to me over and over again during the past few months, it is that my fears have to learn to bow down with me at the cross. I am to fear God – only. “We take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5b – NIV)

3. Understanding in advance that there are going to be storms makes them easier to manage when they arrive. For me, this has been a very typical season with Rob gone of broken appliances, illnesses and other challenges. What seems to make them easier this time is my ability to laugh (only developed after becoming weary from years of flying off the handle with each crisis) more often as these challenges arise. I have found comfort in knowing in advance that with my husband gone, no matter how well he had prepared our home, vehicles, etc., things are just going to go awry. There can definitely be some humor, when I look for it, in how those challenges take shape. “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45b – NIV)

As I watch my sweet neighbor snowblow my driveway (again), I am thankful for the lessons of this storm. There are precautions I need to take in order to be ready to run to the only true shelter that will never fail me in the storms of life which will inevitably arise. I must prepare now to be ready to run to God when the storms of my life cause me to need to shelter in place. How about you? Where is your shelter today?