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Hiding Places

September 4, 2017

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32: 7

In her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom describes the small remodeled space in their home in Amsterdam that they created as a hiding place for Jews during World War II. Later, when a neighbor turned them into the Nazis, and the family was separated and shipped to various concentration camps, Corrie and her sister Betsie ended up at the infamous women’s prison, Ravensbruck. There the sisters’ hiding place was the flea-infested women’s barracks that the guards refused to enter, permitting the women to read Corrie’s small smuggled Bible, and worship together undisturbed. Jesus was there with him, protecting them and providing a hiding place where they could worship.

Books have been one of my refuges throughout my life.  I spent hour upon hour in school, community, and university libraries growing up. Now, I love to spend time in our library at home–surrounded by books, and left to my own thoughts. Church is a place of refuge for many of us, as it was for my mother. It provided a respite from her everyday work and family responsibilities. The music and messages lifted her spirits, and gave her an opportunity to spend time with friends. Being surrounded by loving brothers and sisters in Christ was a true joy for her. And Jesus was there: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them.” (Matthew 18:20).

Love is its own refuge. When you are with a loved one, you are in a world of your own. A comfort zone. A safe zone. Paul explains how important it is to love each other: “Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another, or whoever loves others has fulfilled the law . . . Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.[1] (Romans 13: 8, 10). The impetus for the risk that the ten Booms took in providing a hiding place for their Jewish friends and neighbors was love. We have seen many such everyday heroes and first responders during the past two weeks helping thousands of people whose homes and lives were devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Be a refuge for others.

Where are your hiding places? Where are your safe zones? Your refuges? Ultimately, God was Corrie and Betsie’s hiding place. He protected them throughout their imprisonment and delivered them from many close calls. And he is our hiding place. A place of refuge. David wrote: “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32: 7. I heard this verse quoted and prayed several times in connection with the disaster wreaked by Hurricane Harvey. But the spirit of the faithful shone through it all. They can be assured that God is weeping with them and that his Spirit is with them now, and will stay with them in the coming weeks, months and years as they work to rebuild their lives and their communities.

When you make a commitment to join the family of God—when you say yes to God–the Holy Spirit comes into your life. He inhabits your being. I heard Dallas Willard, one of the leading Christian thinkers and authors of our day, speak at a Saturday retreat at Brentwood Presbyterian about 12 years ago. He counseled that in times of great difficulty and stress, we can find relief in that quiet place in our souls where the Holy Spirit resides. Wherever you are, whether in flea-infested barracks, a flood zone, a shelter, a quiet library, church, or grassy meadow, God is with you. Meet him there. He is truly your ever-present refuge.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for the Fourteenth Sunday in Pentecost are Ezekiel 33: 7-9; Psalm 32; Romans 13: 1-10; Matthew 18: 1-20.

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