Where Does My Help Come From?
by Tori Randolph
What is refuge?
By definition it is "1. a shelter or protection from danger... 2. a place that provides shelter or protection... 3. something to which someone has recourse in difficulty."
Read those again.
1. a shelter or protection from danger... 2. a place that provides shelter or protection... 3. something to which someone has recourse in difficulty.
And further on down Merriam Webster's online dictionary we find this "Did You Know?":
"The re- in refuge means "back" or "backward" rather than "again;" thus, a refugee is someone who is "fleeing backward."
I love that. Fleeing backward. Refuge in its most rooted form is not seeking asylum in a new place. Refuge in its truest form is returning to its first love, first comfort, first salvation. To seek refuge is not to seek new land, but rather to remember, to go back to our original relationship with the Father.
If that isn't powerful enough to end on, let's keep moving backward.
In that third definition above we find the word recourse which by definition is "a source of help or strength."
On this side of eternity we will not experience refuge to the fullest as found in definitions 1 and 2. Rather right now and every day we are in the midst of warfare that requires the refuge of definition 3.
Something to which someone has recourse in difficulty.
Raise your hand if that's you. Raise it high if you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death right now. Or raise it high if you are walking through the valley of the shadow of loneliness, or the valley of the shadow of disappointment, of the valley of the shadow of toxicity at work, or the valley of the shadow of too much noise, too much to do, too much.
Raise your hand if life these days has just been too much.
I'm raising both my arms with you. And let's keep them raised as we tilt our heads towards the sun; as we look backward on the faithfulness of our Father through the ages...
But practically what does that look like?
When I was young I memorized the poem "Footprints in the Sand." It hung on the wall in our guest bathroom and every time I took a trip there, I read it. I read it until the words soaked through my pores, into my veins, and straight to my heart.
I'll leave it below in case it hasn't graced your ears yet.
Footprints in the Sand
One night I had a dream.
I dreamed I was walking along the beach
with the Lord..
Across the sky flashed scenes from my life..
For each scene, I noticed two sets of
footprints in the sand,
one belonging to me, and the other to the Lord...
When the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of my life
there was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest
and saddest times in my life.
This really bothered me
and I questioned the Lord about it:
"Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
you'd walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most
troublesome times in my life
there is only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why
when I need you most you would leave me."
The Lord replied:
"My precious child, I love you and would
never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints, it was then
that I carried you."
by Mary Stevenson
Years passed and I had forgotten the poem. I left behind the child of my heart. The one who let her Daddy carry her on His shoulders during the storm. I let guilt consume me. I believed lies of the enemy that I had created my downfall and I needed to face it alone. I tried to slay the dragons with my own two hands and no backup.
But out of His great love for me, I found a song based on this poem only last week. A video to the song is placed below for your convenience.
As the beginning lyrics played I felt the sadness rising in me. I felt the conviction of a heart that had been left alone. But as the verses breathed into the bridge, I lifted. You lifted me. You are lifting me.
And y'all, God does not just carry you at the lowest and saddest times. He is carrying you always.
"God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble." Psalm 46
Very present. He is right beside you. More beside you than anything or anyone has ever been or ever will be.
Refuge is not somewhere you have never been.
Refuge is where you left. It is Who you left, and Who has never left you.
It is time to come home.
I am reminded again of another old hymn. "Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling. Calling for you and for me. See on the portals He's waiting and watching. Watching for you and for me."
If you raised your hand back there in the beginning of this story, I want you to know that Jesus is ready to carry you. He is going to carry you and all your stuff. He won't ask you to put anything down, or get cleaned up, or get in shape. He is ready with arms wide open to receive all of the mess and the miracle that is you.
Quit fleeing forward to the latest simplification tool, the new Sabbath plan, or the much needed vacation. And instead flee backwards to the truths you hold dear, to the God who is not looking for charity cases, but waiting for His children. Seek His refuge, and then be a refuge. Though this world is not our home, though difficulty is behind every bend, we have a recourse in it all.
I want to leave you with one last song. One last reminder of why refuge is in Him and nothing and no one else. If you know it, sing it over your soul and your life today.
"Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so."
And the wind tells me so, and the kindness in a stranger's eyes tells me so, and the laughs of the little children tell me so, and the sweetness of friendship tells me so, and the providence through financial difficulties tells me so, and the peace through pain tells me so. What more sign do you need? What tells you so?
Sing it over yourself again and feel the enveloping refuge of His love.
Tori Randolph is a teacher, coach, blogger, and plant mother in Rogers, AR. She has killed most of her plants and none of her students. She's most recently become an advocate for stricter ingredient regulation processes in skincare and cosmetics through Beauty Counter. But she counts all that as loss compared to serving Jesus. All her titles can and will someday fade away. When they remember her, let them remember Jesus. To read more of Tori's writing, you can follow her blog at unfilteredliving.wordpress.com.