A true friend encourages us, comforts us, supports us like a big easy chair, offering us a safe refuge from the world.

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

When I did a Google search for the word refuge, this is what I found:

noun: refuge
  1. a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.
    “he was forced to take refuge in the French embassy”

I’ve been thinking about the word for a few days.

What does it mean to be a refuge?

On Saturday morning, I served at a women’s shelter – a refuge or safe house for women faced with domestic violence.  It’s hard for me to fathom the need for this type of service.  What would drive a man to violate his wife and children in this manner?

There has been a lot of talk about refugees lately.  Individuals and family units are fleeing violence in the middle east in search of sanctuary.  Because of the terrorist actions in Paris on Friday, some are proclaiming we shouldn’t accept refugees in our country.

I wonder how and why their ancestors came to this country.  Were they searching for something?  Were they running away from something?  Or were they looking for shelter from violations they were experiencing in their homeland?

Inside the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty is a plaque that reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”  This is a quote from Emma Lazarus, and it seems to match well the messages I was taught in grade school.  The Statue of Liberty represented the freedom and shelter that our country was meant to offer to those in need of asylum.

And now, we want to close our borders to those in need of shelter.  We use fear as an excuse to prevent people from experiencing the same rights and privileges afforded to our ancestors.

I may be questioned about this, but I think it’s something we need to consider.

As I thought more about the concept of refuge.  I couldn’t help but think about how this word is often used in the Bible (particularly in the Psalms) to describe God.

  • “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46:1
  • 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
  • In you, Lord, I have taken refugelet me never be put to shame.  In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me.  Be my rock of refugeto which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.  Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.”  Psalm 71:1-4
  • “I cry to you, O LordI say, ‘You are my refugemy portion in the land of the living.’”  Psalm 142:5
  • You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.”  Psalm 119:114

God is our shelter, our safe haven, our sanctuary, our hiding place, our security, our refuge.

As I contemplate the women who need the shelter and the refugees who need to escape, I think of my own life, and I realize I need to find refuge in God, and I need to be used by Him to bring refuge to others.  This last thought makes me a little uncomfortable, but I think that’s where I need to be.  And I’m guessing it’s where you need to be as well.

How can you and I provide refuge for those in need of security? 

I think this is a question we must ask ourselves and talk about with each other.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.