Tabernacles in the Wilderness
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. — Psalm 91:1
Psalm 91 goes on to list the benefits of living in God’s shelter, including his sure protection from fear, danger, disease and sudden death at the hands of our enemies, both seen and unseen.
Indeed, in the Law that God gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai to identify and govern his covenant people Israel, one of the holy celebrations which were commanded for the people to observe every year, was an annual period of 8 days when the people would temporarily vacate their permanent houses and build temporary booths, consisting primarily of branches, foliage and other natural materials, in which they would eat, sleep and recall together the stories of how God faithfully preserved them in their ancestors’ 40-year journey to the Promised Land, even deep in the harshest and cruelest of desert wildernesses, where there was no respite from the relentless desert sun and the lack of proper shade and water supply.
So they would build those tabernacles once a year and live in them together as a family for about a week, in a joyful and festive commemoration of the time that God provided their ancestors, the freed former slaves of Egypt, with tabernacles for shelter in the wilderness.
As we look around our world today, we see powerful testimony as to how very blessed we are with the comfortable, safe and permanent shelters in which most of us live (and mostly take for granted), in comparison with so many at the present time who have been permanently driven from the lands in which they were born, and from the houses that they once called home.
There are few places in the world right now that are more vivid examples of that than the land of Af*******an.
In Lyft rides that this writer took this past week in order to get to his downtown office and to the supermarket, he had brief conversations with two men from this part of the world, whom we’ll refer to by their initials A and D.
A’s story was especially poignant. He was a former translator attached to American and British forces serving in his home country, and was now desperately trying to get his family out to safety.
And I told D about my church’s drive today to collect useful $20 gift cards for the incoming refugees, and about our plan next month to help set up a newly arriving family in their own furnished apartment, courtesy of our many sorts of IAC volunteers.
D requested my phone number as a possible point of follow-up contact, just in case he or someone he knew might be interested in finding out more, or might be looking for some practical forms of assistance in this crisis. (Editor: Weber and I suggested giving out the church number and email was always a great alternative!)
I pray for God’s wisdom and protection as I look for ways to help, taking care that in doing so I’m not exposing myself and someone else to unnecessary risks, especially online.
God, thank you, indeed, for your many forms of wise guidance and informed counsel, for the shelter and protection that you provide for us at different stages and in different situations in our lives.
To people like A and D and their families, friends and neighbors, please show yourself to them, as you have shown your people Israel and the people of your Holy Church down through the centuries, your sure passage to safety. Guide them to the solid shelters that you will provide for them in their own journey through their fearful and dangerous wilderness.
Guard them, and guard us, too, as we seek to help them.
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. — Psalm 4:8
Yes, Father—may we all find that blessed rest in the shelter of your everlasting arms, as we look to you to save and deliver us from all our enemies, and bring us at last into that heavenly country which is the rightful inheritance of all your sons and daughters, whom you are now rescuing and gathering from every tribe, language and nation. AMEN.