A photograph of a park bench with a sign saying "Find Shelter Here."
credit: Spring Advertising

“Shelter!” What is shelter? Is it something that will give protection, or refuge?

Many of us today lack shelter, in one way or another. This is a very literal problem of survival for people who are homeless. The need for shelters can be mental and physical. It can be spiritual, as well. God is a refuge or shelter for those like me who are homeless and in trouble.

When we are emotionally on our own, we are more vulnerable to the enemy of the devil’s tactics — fear, guilt and hate are a few of his favorites.

We need a source of stability and safety.

If we take refuge or shelter in God, we can have victory over the enemy. Victory over the devil as he tries to influence our hearts, minds and strength.

King David said in Psalm 61 to the Lord, “I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.”

When we are overwhelmed with homeless issues, peace and protection are ours through God’s son, Jesus Christ. In Him, you may have peace and refuge and shelter and protection from homeless issues.

Jesus said. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! Because I have overcome the world! The Bible says in John 3:16 that ” For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

And John 3:17 follows to say that, “For God sent not his son in to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”

In times of trouble, God’s name is like a strong power. Thus, homeless people may call on Him and be saved. I am living proof of this.

I once saw that a charity in Vancouver, British Columbia, had developed benches that converted into temporary shelters. The back of the bench pulled up to create a roof that could shield a homeless person from wind and rain. And at night, these sleeping spaces were easy to find because they featured a glow-in-the-dark message that reads, “THIS IS A BEDROOM.”

Or, so I thought.

It turned out those benches were a clever advertising campaign. The charity, Rain City, had partnered with a frim to build awareness about the growing number of people struggling with homelessness and in need of a place to sleep. The benches did open to provide a roof, but it was never intended to actually be relied on for this use.

If you were in need, the benches were intended to provide information: where to get real help through the charity. And for a person who did not think much about homelessness or the need for shelter, it was intended to open their hearts and minds.

Well, like the bench, many things in life are unexpected. They are not what they seemed or not what you planned for. Yet, like the true purpose of the bench, we must always strive to open our hearts and minds.

Whatever type of shelter you may need, please consider praying with me:

Dear God,
I am poor and weak and defenseless. But you are mighty and strong, more powerful than I. Please help me find peace and love and unity with self and others. Help me rest in you when I am overwhelmed.

Love, always. Yours truly,
The Rev. Dr. John F. Littlejohn