shelter over me

   I was visiting family last week to celebrate my brother, Kevin. He graduated from High School last Friday and almost all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins came from various states to cheer him on. We are a close family and love to be together. Unfortunately, most of our gatherings this past year have been to grieve. First the loss of our 18 year old cousin Tyler last April, then the loss of our grandfather "Pap" in September, and recently the loss of our 15 year old cousin Nick just last month. It felt good to be getting together for a happy event. But, there were still moments when we cried, because Nick's death is still very raw. 
    Friday night most of the family was inside watching a hockey game. John and I were still on the back deck watching Dad grill the last of the hamburgers. The sky had been echoing with thunder for awhile and the wind was starting to pick up. My mom and my Uncle Tom came out to visit with Dad too. I felt a couple drops land on my arm, so Mom, Tom, John and I all ran into the screened -in gazebo that I helped my dad build 6 years ago. The sky opened up - we could feel the mist from the torrential downpour going on around us. It was actually really cool. We each took a seat knowing that we could be stuck in the gazebo for awhile. Then Uncle Tom began to talk.
   Nick was Tom's middle son. He was diagnosed with cancer when he was just one year old. The next 14 years were one long battle. Tom shared his heart for the next hour. He shared some stories about the good days, the sweetness that was Nick. He talked about the jokes they shared and the brave courage that Nick possessed. Tom talked about the bad days. Days when Nick was sick and exhausted from all the chemotherapy. Days when they learned the tumor just wasn't getting any smaller. The day they had to tell Nick that this was the end. No more treatments. It was time to prepare for heaven. Then he talked about the day that Nick went home to Jesus. How he was sitting in church watching his son Sam get confirmed when my Aunt Jodie called to say "come home now". He shared how he'll never forget the moment he ran in the back door and saw Nick in Jodie's arms... and he knew he'd missed it by mere minutes.
   We cried with him as Tom shared the pain in his heart. We missed Nick with him as we all thought of the memories we have of Nick. Tom and I shared our own perspectives of grief involved with losing a child. We've both been there - more than once. You can only truly understand that pain when you've lived it. Watching a loved one go through it makes you re-live it again yourself. 
   The rain continued to pour down as we talked in that gazebo. As our conversation died down, so did the rain. A song started to well up in my heart...
You are my strong tower
Shelter over me
Beautiful and mighty
Everlasting King
You are my strong tower
Fortress when I'm weak
Your name is true and holy
And Your face is all I seek
   The storm was raging on around us, but we were safe. The rain was pouring down, but we were dry. We could feel the mist from the rain, but we were not soaked. We were under a shelter. Protected. We could hear and see the storm, we could even feel some small effects of it, but we were not consumed. It's the same in life. Storms rage on in this world everyday. Losing Nick was a hurricane, tornado, and earthquake all rolled into one. But Jesus is our refuge. He is our shelter and we are not consumed. We feel the pain, we see the loss, but it does not take us over. 
  As I sat in that gazebo, humming the song in my head, I started to think about why I trusted this as a shelter. I realized that I knew it was secure, well - built, and strong. I was there when my father built it. I watched him pour concrete into the holes that held the posts. I helped nail the boards into place. I knew it was a sound structure. It was not a hastily thrown together shack without any real foundation. It was built to last. 
  So why do I trust God to be my shelter in the storm? Because I was there with Him when we built our relationship. We made sure that it was a solid foundation, sealed with concrete faith and trust. I read His word everyday, and as I do, one more board is nailed into place. I was not hasty in my decision make Jesus the Lord of my life. I took that step seriously. God and I built this relationship to last. Our love is indestructible. God's love for me is unchanging and everlasting. I can trust Him as my shelter.
"For you have been my refuge, 
a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings."
Psalm 61:3-4


Lauren said...

How beautiful--I just had that image in my heart and on my blog this morning! My BFF Jami doesn't like storms, so I jokingly told her I would shield her with my body if the tornado came. That got me thinking about how our Faithful God does that--taking our grief, punishment, pain, and bearing the brunt of it so we are left to weather the storm under His shelter. How cool to read the same thought over here!

Love you sister!

That Lauren

Hope said...

Dear Lauren,

You have me crying; this is so sweet and encouraging…and sad. I don’t even know you but my heart aches for your family as I read this. I can feel that Nick was and still is very precious. Thank you for sharing your trust and faith in God.


3 Blessings said...

I just wanted to tell you that your family is in my prayers.

Kuan-Chih said...

This is soooo beautiful!! I feel so connected when you talked about how you trust the gazebo as a shelter like we trust in the Lord.
Right!! Because we talk to Him, put our faith in Him, follow Him step by step everyday, we believe the relationship with God is built to last.
What a beautiful testimony from your family!!

In Christ's love,

Alicia said...

Lauren...that was such a beautiful post!!

I love the gazebo as an illustration of God being our strong tower!!

I was so blessed reading this!