Shelter in Place

We, along with the rest of America, were saddened by the news of the Boston marathon bombings and followed the news coverage closely. As we watched the aftermath and the search for the suspects unfold, one phrase that the police spokesman used stuck out to me. He urged people in the Boston area to “shelter in place.” I knew what they meant––stay where you are and don’t venture out. But I’d never heard that particular phrase before, and it keeps coming to mind.

As we discussed the bombings with the family one evening, someone commented that America wasn’t a safe place to be. Someone else piped up with, “Yeah, but here in Papua there are earthquakes.” And finally Grace said, “There’s just not a safe place in the world.”

The Holsten family with missionary and Peace Child author, Don Richardson.

The Holsten family with missionary and Peace Child author, Don Richardson.

She’s right. Loved ones in the U.S. worry about the dangers we might face in Indonesia, and we worry about the dangers they face in the U.S. that aren’t as much of a concern here––carjackings, armed robbery, random shootings, high-speed car accidents.

I think it is within us as humans to search out a safe place to live, and protect ourselves from potential dangers. That is wise. But there also comes a point when we realize, the world can be a dangerous, scary place. And as we serve overseas, we don’t have safety as our ultimate goal. We wouldn’t be here if we did.

And so we need to practice “shelter in place,” though not as the police spokesman intended. For me it means I recognize that wherever we are in the world, there is potential danger, and when faced with that danger, or worry of danger, we can find comfort in the Lord, who promises peace in the midst of trials.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1

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