“Be my strong refuge,
To which I may resort continually;
You have given the commandment to save me,
For You are my rock and my fortress.” Psalm 71:3
“The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
A refuge in times of trouble.
And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;
For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” Ps. 9:9-10
“God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
The Bible is abundantly clear about the Lord’s command for His followers to assemble together, to love and praise and worship and serve Him, to teach of Him and learn of Him, to give to Him and share with others, both to give to those in need and to fellowship with one another in Christ’s love, and this we may call church, or temple, or Bible study, or a house church, or a church small group. Christ’s followers are “the church”, and we are called and commanded and blessed by congregating together in unity in Christ. Not only do we assemble to bless the Lord, but we are blessed by Him in so doing – including in the way of loving, encouraging, praying for, teaching, fellowshipping, and helping, supporting, and giving to one another in His name. But some of us, as I once did, for a long while at that, may see the assembling of Christ’s followers, in church, as something we are not intended to be. We are not intended to be THE REFUGE. THE HIDING PLACE. THE SECRET PLACE. THE SHELTER.
For there is no greater REFUGE, no greater HIDING PLACE, no greater SECRET PLACE, no greater SHELTER, no greater HELP, no greater DWELLING PLACE, no greater PLACE OF ABIDING, no greater HOPE, no greater MERCY, no greater COMPASSION, no greater HEALING, no greater KINDNESS, and TENDERNESS, and COMFORT, no greater RESTING PLACE, no greater BURDEN BEARER, no greater REDEEMER, no greater FORTRESS, no greater PROTECTOR, no greater PROVIDER, no greater ANYTHING AT ALL, than our Father in heaven, God almighty, to whom we are given access through Lord Jesus Christ Himself!
We who follow Christ and are thus His Body most assuredly are to be servants and vessels of God’s love and provision, to be distributors of all He desires to distribute through us, to open our hearts, our doors, our pocketbooks, our pantries, our calendars, anything and everything the Lord asks of us to love others in Christ’s name, BUT we are NEVER EVER greater than the Lord Himself, NEVER EVER more important than He is, NEVER EVER greater givers or providers, NEVER EVER greater in any way at all, than the Lord in His infinite love in His infinite mercy with His infinite grace whose arms and heart are open wide to all those who call upon and believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, who turn from this world’s wickedness to God and His ways, who need and yearn for and long for the greatest love that ever was and is and ever will be, the Lord, oh what a REFUGE He is! There is no REFUGE greater than He!
Some of us, as for so very long I did, come running to the church building, and to the church congregation as our “savior” instead of to the Lord Jesus Christ who is Savior and Lord of all. We will never in the church building, nor ever in Christ’s followers, find the perfectly holy, perfectly righteous, perfectly loving, amazingly awesome Messiah who is Christ who is Lord by whom we can access the Father, in heaven, God almighty, who is the greatest REFUGE that ever was and shall be.
Should we reach out to Christ’s body, should we reach out to the church congregation, should we go running to the church building when we are in need? We should most assuredly assemble with Christ’s body, and be part of the giving, receiving, and sharing in Christ’s love we are offered and called to give, BUT may there never be a more important, higher priority, place we go running, and keep going, and learn to stay, to remain, to abide, than in the glorious shelter of the wings of the Lord God almighty whose perfect Son Jesus, the Christ, is the most magnificent splendorous REFUGE we will ever find. Oh, to unwind, to lay down our burdens, to unfold, to learn to be still, to rest, to find healing, in the everlasting REFUGE who is the most glorious, splendid, majestic everlasting Christ!
The church building, and congregation of Christ’s followers, we are nothing more than imperfect vessels of the perfect Lord. The PERFECT REFUGE from the storms and trials of this life, from our everyday cares and responsibilities, from everything we face and experience on this earth day by day, is the Lord. May we daily, deliberately, devotedly, longingly, passionately, desperately, desirously, and so very thankfully, consciously, with God’s Word open before us, come into His beloved presence, into His refuge, into His shelter, into His loving arms.