To take refuge, one must move into what has been provided as "cover". In the terms of a hunter, they set up a small tent of sorts, creating an illusion of "belonging" in the surroundings. The illusion is meant to fool those animals who frequent the area, giving them a sense of security, but not alerting them to the intruders in their midst. God's refuge is unlike that of the hunters - for it is never an illusion, never meant to trick, and does not disguise those who would attempt to intrude upon its security. Yet his refuge is a place of "cover" for those who avail themselves of it. Not a place to "duck and cover", but a place of protective covering, free of worry and harassment.
But you’ll welcome us with open arms when we run for cover to you. Let the party last all night! Stand guard over our celebration. You are famous, God, for welcoming God-seekers, for decking us out in delight. (Psalm 5:11-12 MSG)
Some things we need to know about God's refuge:
- It is a place where we are welcomed with open arms. God doesn't hold out on us, or hold back on welcoming us in. If you are like me, you have one of those little peep holes in your front door. Whenever someone comes to the door, I have the opportunity to "screen" my visitors to see if I want to open the door to them. This little security device is handy not only to protect me, but to keep me from opening doors to all those people who come around to hock their wares! I don't think God's door has a peep hole because "screening" those who might seek refuge is just not in keeping with his character. Those who run to him are received with open arms - welcomed without limit into his presence.
- It is a place we can go for "cover". There are times we just need to "hide away" - not so much because we have done something wrong, but because we just need a place to regroup and rest. It is a place of "rehabilitation" for us when we are worn to a fray. It is more than a place to "evade" an attack - it is a place to gain strength and wisdom for the upcoming invasion attempt! Too many times, I think we view God's place of refuge as a place to escape to in order to avoid being taken down. This is definitely one of the meanings of God's refuge, but it is not the only one. His refuge is a place of "action" as much as it is a place of "rest" - for we gain insight into the counter-attack we need to wage against the weapons formed against us!
- It is a place of celebration. Now, not many "run for cover" in order to "celebrate" anything! In fact, when we see ourselves running for cover, it is usually because we are trying to escape something. We need to reconsider this thought - for it is not us "escaping something", but us "escaping into someone". We move from a place of handling life on our own into a place of allowing God to envelope us in his tender-graces until we are wise with his wisdom, strong with his strength, and enabled with his ability to stand against all life is sending our way. That gives us cause to celebrate!
In a more literal sense, "cover" is the counter-attack someone wages in order to take the pressure off of you so you can reach a place of safety. God's refuge stands open to receive us and he "covers" us with all we need in order to arrive safely in his arms. God's refuge is a place of both protection and provision. Run into it and experience all he has awaiting you there. You won't find yourselves disappointed by his welcome, his provision, or his preparation. Just sayin!