As kids, we all had our hiding places. The places we could go when we knew we were in trouble, or after we fought with our brother or sister, or when we were just having a bad day. One of mine was a large apple tree. Not the dwarf variety, but an honest to goodness tall apple tree. I’d climb up a ways and settle in to think things through. As adults, we still have our hiding places, different from our childhood yet serving the same purpose – a place to escape the pressures, conflict, and drama of life.
There are of course some obvious escapes that folks run to like drugs, booze, sex, and work. Basically, anything that you can add an “aholic” to the end of and get away with it. Most of the folks that read Lambchow articles may have run to those at one time but have since found freedom. But just because we’ve conquered the obvious escapes doesn’t mean that we have conquered the habit of escaping to wrong things. There are times when we do need space to sort things out, to deal with our feelings, and decide what steps to take next. The issue is not the escaping but where we escape to when we feel the need.
Consider this for a moment, when you have a really bad day where do you go to find release? What things do you do? What things do you indulge in? Where to do you run to? The Bible tells us to run to Jesus. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10, NASB95) While the psalmist is referring to the holy name of Jehovah the Bible records many names, titles, and attributes of God and Jesus. Whatever the need of the moment there is a name of God to cover it. The very first lines of Lord’s Prayer points in the same direction, “Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name!” Here’s another verse to consider, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence.” (2 Samuel 22:2–3, NASB95) Jesus is the cornerstone, the rock that was rejected is our foundation, the firm place where we can stand. Other verses in the psalms picture God’s protection as a hen sheltering her chicks, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper And from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.” (Psalm 91:1–4, NASB95) Wow!
I said earlier that the issue is not the escaping but where we escape to when we feel the need. There is a difference between taking refuge and seeking to escape. Taking refuge is like running to the basement or shelter when a storm threatens. Seeking escape is like pretending that the storm doesn’t exist. When the storms of life threaten we can either take refuge in Jesus Christ and declare “My refuge and fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” Or, we can bury our stresses, conflicts, pains, and worries in somewhere else and pretend that they aren’t there. When we escape instead of taking refuge in God we create an idol out of that person, place, or activity. In essence, we replace God’s sheltering wings with a cheap substitute.
The next time the storms of life threaten, the next time there are angry words, the next time you have a bad day and want to run to the TV, the fridge, the workshop, the computer or any of a number of other things pause and remember – “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper And from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.”