Most of us can relate to the relief that is felt when shade is found on a scorching, hot day. And when you’re the only one in your family whose skin burns in the sun rather than turns to a golden, brown tan, you’ve learned to become great friends with shade. Umbrellas, canopies, awnings. I am well acquainted with them all. Shade is my safety, which is why the symbol of God’s shadow as our refuge resonates with me. But maybe you’re not like me who requires broad spectrum SPF 85+ to step outside at noon on a summer day (I wish that was an exaggeration). So what’s your place of refuge? It may look different for each of us, but I believe we all long for the kind of relief that a sense of safety, security, and protection brings.
As a Christian woman, what do you desire most in a relationship? Correct me if I’m wrong, but is it maybe security? Whether financial, physical, emotional, or spiritual. Is this longing for security biblical or is it rooted in fear? Honestly, it can be both. The desire for security exists for all mankind. Since sin entered into the world, communion with God has been broken. We know from reading the book of Genesis that Adam and Eve hid from God when they sinned against Him. The protection that God had provided them in the garden was shattered by their act of disobedience, so they looked to protect themselves. Not only did they try to cover their nakedness with fig leaves, they also tried to cover their ego by resorting to blame. The man blamed his wife and the woman blamed the serpent (Genesis 3:8-13 NIV). As you can see, our own idea of protection is not always the healthiest.
But the longing for protection is ultimately a longing to be with God and to be right in the eyes of God.
There’s nothing we can physically do to be right with God. This is evident in Israel’s many failed attempts to follow the Law, which is why God sent His Son to save us of our sins and fulfill the Law. He knew our deeds couldn’t give us our righteousness. “But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13 NIV). God wants to be with us even more than we want to be with Him. So instead of hiding behind a tree when He calls your name, He wants you to be hidden in the righteousness of His Son, without fear of disapproval (Colossians 3:3 NIV). How is this possible? Because Christ conquered death, it has no dominion over Him and it has no dominion over those who choose Jesus as their Lord and Savior. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV). Our refuge is redeemed and we can commune with God once again, the place of greatest protection in His presence.
We need to remember that protection comes from God first and foremost.
When Adam and Eve turned to blame, neither of them realized the kind of security they had in the garden with the Father, and therefore did not value it. So they sought out protection through other means, which can eventually manifest as sabotaging, complaining, condemning, keeping a record or wrong, etc. All things that make for a terrible relationship and break security. Without a reliance on God in this area, insecurity runs rampant. And where there’s no safety or security, we are bound to get deeply wounded.
God has gone to great lengths to remind us of the protection He offers us, specifically in the sending of His Son, but also in many other areas of Scripture:
“The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10 NIV).
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty...He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge” (Psalm 91:1, 4 NIV).
“The Lord watches over you — the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day nor the moon by night” (Psalm 121:5-6 NIV).
These verses have been a personal encouragement to me in navigating my own insecurities. I struggled with trusting a partner in a previous relationship, so whenever they did or said something that I felt was dishonoring to me, I protected my pride by keeping a record of their wrongs. It was good ammo, or so I thought at the time, but it didn’t produce change in him or me. In actuality, it kept me as the victim, a place of false refuge that I had designed. Let me tell you, creating a home of unhealthy habits is a very slippery slope. I had to remind myself that Scripture says to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36 NIV). Who’s my neighbor? Anyone that’s not God. Then I had to research what love is, as defined by God. Love “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV). Well then, couldn’t be more clear than that!
I am continuing to learn how to rely on God as my Protector in every area of life. I look forward to the day that I enter into complete refuge with my Father in eternity...where I will also no longer require sunscreen! But since I still live on earth, I need to learn how to manage the inevitable “burns” of a world that seeks protection in all the wrong places. So that we don’t function out of fear, we must look to God for security and remind ourselves that nothing can pluck us from His hand.
We need to choose wisely who we spend our time with, especially in a relationship. Does you partner also find security in his identity as a child of God, or does he project his feelings of insecurity onto you? If he is secure, this will be evident in how he protects your heart emotionally, respects your boundaries, cares for your physical needs, contributes financially to the relationship, and leads spiritually (to name a few). Take inventory of these things, for your own life and for your relationship. And don’t forget, you have something much more powerful than an umbrella in your tool belt (assuming it’s a compact umbrella that could fit in a tool belt). You have the shield of faith to protect you from the insecurities of this world trying to creep in. Use it!