Sheltering the storm - Paula Murray

Paula writes an insightful article reflecting on the importance of God's firm foundation in sheltering the storms of life. She details the journey she has been on, and how she has learnt to find refuge in Him.

I don’t know about you, but I love a good storm, happily watching it from the safety and comfort of my living room.

The closer it gets the scarier it can be, but I’m not afraid of the power and force that comes with it, simply because I have confidence in the protection that my house provides.

The same storm can feel very different though if you’re worried about your shelter, or if you’re caught outside in it. Camping in the tail end of a cyclone was a frightening experience that I don’t wish to repeat. It was a long, scary night as we endured the wind and rain, feeling exposed in our tent and worrying whether our protection would hold.

As Christians, we’re not immune to the storms that life brings and I’m sure we can all relate to 2 Corinthians chapter 4, verse 8 where it says “we are pressed on every side by troubles...”. Storms can be long and enduring, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and battered by the onslaught.

The Bible tells us in many places ‘Do not fear’ and that ‘God is our refuge’ but when we’re caught in the middle of a storm that can be far from our experience.

So if the Bible tells us not to worry, why do we?

A shelter through the storm

Taking time to build a strong relationship with God will determine how safe and protected we feel by Him. Storms lose their impact when we trust our shelter.

So what does your shelter look like?

If your experience of God’s refuge is like taking cover in a tent that you’ve hastily erected, a storm is not going to be so easy to endure and you may end up running for the hills and blaming the tent for not protecting you.

Or perhaps you’re in a nice weatherboard that you maybe haven’t taken the time to maintain. While day-to-day it’s a great place to be, in heavy rain the leaks start, and you worry that the tiles may fly off in the wind.

A storm’s intensity will feel vastly different depending on the shelter we’re taking refuge under. So perhaps reflect for a moment – what structure have you been building to weather the storms in?

When our shelters are not solid

For a number of years I was living in a shack. I was doing all the right things, reading my Bible, going to church, living Christian values, but looking back there was a fundamental element missing – I didn’t trust my refuge. I didn’t trust God to look after me.

I didn’t trust that when the Bible said I was His masterpiece that I was (Ephesians chapter 2, verse 10). I felt that His love for me was based on what I did and not what He’d done (Galatians chapter 2, verse 21).

Taking time to build a strong relationship with God will determine how safe and protected we feel by Him. Storms lose their impact when we trust our shelter.

I felt that if the storm came it was my fault and I had to weather things on my own.

But God often uses these storms to disrupt things for us, to cause us to seek shelter, to reflect on life and look for Him. One day God began changing everything that I’d been believing and started to reveal how loved and accepted I was.

The storm that blew everything away enabled me to start rebuilding my relationship with Him, renewing my faith in my refuge.

So where to from here:

1. Getting the foundations and structure right

God is a designer, architect and builder. He has given us the blueprint in His Word for building an incredible relationship with him, the perfect refuge. Jesus tells us in Matthew chapter 7, verses 24-27 to build our house on the rock, to have firm foundations so that when the winds and floods come we can rely on it to hold fast.

But what we build on the foundations is also important. We need to allow God to help us build the refuge that He intended. It takes time, but developing good habits and routines with God will help us to build something strong and solid.

2. It’s not who you are, it’s whose you are

I love this quote. Know and understand how God feels about you, get God’s Word into your heart and let His promises sink in and permeate your life.

3. Maintain, maintain, maintain

God will allow a few downpours to reveal what needs working on and where the holes are, so we can fix them. And from there we need to give God the time and space in our lives to perfect what He is building.

4. You’re not alone

Take heart and know that regardless of the state of your structure, Jesus is right in there with you. That’s something powerful to reckon with.

God is our strength

A few years ago I had a picture of a powerful, raging river and a bridge across it – a precarious wooden swing bridge with planks of wood missing. I was too frightened to cross.

But then God showed me a larger stronger bridge that crossed over the same river and I was no longer afraid. The bridge was representative of my relationship with Him and the situations I was facing.

I pray that Psalm 46 may be your experience.

“God is our refuge and strength

an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way

and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam

and the mountains quake with their surging.”

Paula works as an Undergraduate Programmes Manager at AUT. She was born in NZ but grew up in the UK where she met her husband Andy at the church youth group. They moved to NZ 24 years ago, have two amazing young adult children. Paula loves reflecting on the journey that God has been leading her on and seeing His power working through her weaknesses. // Photo: Caleb Van Essen

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