You know I’m the mother of a 7-year-old by the number of times I was forced to watch The LEGO Batman Movie over the weekend. I almost always go into kids’ films with a fair amount of weeping and gnashing of teeth, but motherly duty prevails… as does a gratuitous amount of salty, buttered popcorn.
I won’t go into a lengthy review or summary of this modern cinematic classic, but here’s the gist: Batman – the introverted, wealthy, elitist superhero with a sadly hilarious and maxed-out savior complex – gets by and saves LEGO Gotham with a little help from his friends.
He didn’t want to ask for help, he didn’t think anyone was as capable as him, and he certainly didn’t want to let anyone on the inside – of his heart, or his batcave. But in the end, he found safety in numbers, and a new family to boot.
Is it just me, or does that sound a little familiar? (Okay, maybe it’s just me).
Several years ago, Jars of Clay (and friends) came out with an album called The Shelter, a lyrical expression of the communion and care we find within the family of God. We were on home assignment at the time, a little lonely and a lot stressed. This album became our soundtrack as we crisscrossed the Midwest meeting with current and potential supporters, visiting new churches, and going about as normal of a life as we could muster. We listened to it so much that our entire family knew every song by heart, joining together in song, proclaiming:
Where You lead us / We will follow
It’s out of my hands / It was from the start / In light of what You’ve done for me
Send me to the edge of the Earth / Show me what our life is worth
In the shelter of each other / We will live
I didn’t know at the time that this was an Irish proverb. “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.”
“The word for word translation is ‘we live in each other’s shadow’,” says Irish author and poet Pádraig Ó Tuama. “But there is a beautiful ambivalence to this proverb thrown up by an island culture. The ambiguity lies in the word scáth which can mean either shadow and shade or shelter and protection.”
When I think on it now, I remember the tears shed in the front seat of that minivan as we zoomed down I-35 towards a new church, a new family, a new doubt, a new fear.
But I also remember the answered prayer of those lyrics, the beauty and the strength of the shelter He provided us through His people.
- Friends who took us in
- Community groups who let us take over
- Families who gave us furniture, cars, shoulders to cry on, companionship, and hope
- Women who ate, and laughed, and prayed with me over vegan energy balls (why?)
- Churches who invited us to speak, cast vision, and join their work
- Pastors who encouraged us and advocated for us
- Church planters who treated us to a weekend away
- Strangers who became family
Oh yes, the Lord is our shelter, but how He works through His children to provide (and literally be) that shelter is a priceless gift and a great mercy for the weariness of the world.
I want to say that those blessings were not lost on me, and that our life overseas is characterized by the shelter we offer others. I want to say that our pull-out couch is always made, the fridge fully-stocked, and the door of our house wide open.
But sometimes I forget, and sometimes I am weary, and sometimes I just don’t want to. I love my house a little too much, and I hold our life a little too close. I get caught up in the worrying over the material shelter of my children, our family, our future. I trust in earthly things.
And then I remember:
If our hearts are turned to stone
There is hope we know the rocks will cry out
And the tears aren’t ours alone
Let them fall into the hands that hold us
Come away from where you’re hiding
Set aside the lies that you’ve been living
May this place of rest in the fold of your journey
Bind you to hope
We will never walk alone
– “Shelter” by Jars of Clay
In the shelter of each other, built by the Master Builder-slash-Holy Spirit (I’m sorry for the LEGO puns) and with our open hands, we will live. How can we not, if this is what He’s done for us?
When has someone offered you physical (or metaphorical) shelter? How has God allowed you to shelter others? What stops us from offering shelter, shade or protection to others?
This is The Grove and we want to hear from you! You can link up your blog post, or share your practices, ponderings, wisdom, questions, ideas, and creative expressions with us in the comments below.
Here’s our Instagram collection from this week using #VelvetAshesShelter. You can add yours!