Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)
Some time ago, I enrolled in a ten-day treatment partial hospitalization program—sort of a refresher course on my road to mental health. I didn’t learn much new, but it was good to meet some of my fellow pilgrims on the journey.
I met one gentleman who had really fallen on hard times. He was once successfully working in the legal profession but had lost everything. As he went through the program, he was living in a shelter, looking for adequate housing.
I felt a range of emotions hearing him speak. Mostly, I felt gratitude. I was grateful first for shelters and the people who work in them. Things could have been much worse for him. I was also grateful my life hadn’t taken a turn here or there, that I hadn’t wound up living so close to the edge as he was. I was grateful for the program where he found the support not to give up as he faced such hard times.
Years later, I found myself in a somewhat similar state of desperation. Because of various factors, one Sunday night in 2012, I left my wife and children. I asked a man I had just met at a prayer group to drive me to a hospital 20 miles away. Based on my mental health history, I was sent to the psychiatric unit for evaluation. I was hoping to find temporary shelter until I could gather the resources (and a plan) to obtain more stable housing.
I spent that night in the waiting room of the psychiatric unit, not wanting to be admitted, but finding that no safe shelters were available. A caring social worker calmly reviewed with me my options. She encouraged me to call on local pastors. I remembered a former ministry supervisor who lived in the area. He knew about my illness and had been a great support in the past. I called him. He told me of three churches that might help, gave me the names of contact persons, and indicated I could use him as a reference.
Within a couple hours, I was sitting in a diner across from a local pastor, feasting on a burger and fries. She explained they would book me in a downtown motel for three nights (more if needed) and provide me with food and other necessities. I could do my laundry at the church and a man serving as sort of a pastor-to-pastors would be in touch to see that my physical, relational, and spiritual needs were met.
Within three days, with the help of family, friends, and strangers, I had signed a monthly lease for an attic apartment at a reasonable price in a nice neighborhood within walking distance of a library, grocery stores, and laundry mats. The bus line was only a block away. For just three dollars, I could get a daily pass and go anywhere in the city I needed to go. Most importantly, I had good, safe shelter.
I am thankful for shelter, in all the forms it comes. I’m especially thankful for the shelter of the One who lives and reigns above. In Christ, we are promised not only a temporary home in this life, but an eternal shelter of the Most High.
I now know first-hand how the body of Christ provides shelter and care and I’m eternally grateful.