What do you think of when someone mentions the word "shelter?" Where is your "safe place?" Do you think of your home, tucked away in a quiet neighborhood? Are you reminded of the steel roof of an underground bunker, bomb-proof and secure? Perhaps you are in the arms of a loved one stronger and wiser than you, who protects you or with whom you have built an implicit trust?
Shelter, for me, conjures up many different images. When I was a little girl, there was a willow tree out in back of our house, with a child-sized picnic table underneath. For the first six years of my life, this was my favorite place to be. Here was a secret hiding place where I held court with my dolls, served tea to imaginary dignitaries, and peeked secretly out at the world through draping, sun-kissed branches. Sometimes, my best neighbor-friend, Wendy, would come visit me there, slipping through the stand of trees that divided our backyards. It was the perfect escape for a little girl!
My old willow tree now shelters other children, and as the years have passed I have known many other forms of shelter: new homes, private retreats, loving relationships, just as I'm sure you have. But the most powerful image in my mind is that of a shelter that protects my life, not just my body or my soul. (See Ecclesiastes 7:12). It is the shelter found in the Name of God.
The Blessing is in the Name
When we become believers, a divine transference takes place. Through adoption, we receive the Name of God as our own. This doesn't just mean we call ourselves "Christians" from now on; it means that the essence of God - the manifestation of His Spirit, nature, and Presence - is imparted, or "rubbed on," as an anointing. Hebrews speaks of God engraving His nature on our hearts and minds. Numbers describes the priests "putting My Name on the people of Israel, so that I will bless them." (See Hebrews 8:10; Numbers 6:24-26).
So how does His Name become a shelter? Deuteronomy clarifies this for us:
All the people of the earth shall see that you are called by the
Name (or the Presence) of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you.
Deut. 28:10, AMP
Think briefly of Israel's journey through the wilderness. We often attribute the pillars of fire and cloud only as easy-to-follow "road signs" out of Egypt, when in truth, these manifestations of the Presence of God were for shelter and protection as well. The cloud sheltered them from oppressive desert heat. It darkened the path behind them. And no enemy would dare approach a traveling caravan protected by a supernatural column of scorching fire!
Exodus 14:19 connects the movement of the Angel of God to the movement of the pillars of cloud and fire. When the cloud moved, it literally "came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel...so that the one did not come near the other all that night." (Ex. 14:20, NKJV). In this way, the Name, or essence of God manifested over His people, sheltered and delivered them from Egypt.
David also knew this kind of protection, writing of it often in his Psalms. Psalm 31:20 reads, "You hide them in the shelter of Your Presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in Your Presence, far from accusing tongues." (NLT; for more examples, see Psalms 27, 91 & 138). Because of our relationship with God, we are able to run in to our Father's arms and find safety from physical or verbal threats (Proverbs 18:10).
Why is all of this important? Because the days to come will be more challenging than ever before.
This morning's headlines included yet another Asian plane crash, a commuter train wreck in New York, more Syrian executions, and record-breaking snowstorms in New England. We need the kind of shelter that only the anointing and Presence of God can provide for these times. Fortunately, Isaiah gives us a promise of what this looks like for a redeemed people:
... then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion,
and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining
of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering.
And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat,
for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain."
Isaiah 4:5-6, NKJV
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you are living under the covering of His anointing. Anything that touches you must pass through the fire of His Presence first! You are shielded and sheltered under His wonderful Name, the Name that is above every other Name! (Philippians 2:9-11). He is "tabernacling" with you daily, overshadowing you with His glory. He is both leading and protecting you. Glory to His Name!
But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them shout for joy forever.
May You shelter them, and may those who love Your name boast about You.
Psalm 5:11, HCSB
Deborah Perkins is passionate about connecting people with God. She writes about knowing God and hearing His voice at HisInscriptions.com. To subscribe to her blog, click here.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.