by Jenny Harrison
“When you’re safe at home, you wish you were having an adventure; when you’re having an adventure you wish you were safe at home.”
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
Proverbs 18:10 (ESV)
It’s a popular childhood game and one I remember well. Siblings, cousins, and friends would play endlessly when they came to visit. I would run like the wind, ducking and weaving, looking over both shoulders trying desperately to avoid being dragged to the ground by an over zealous participant who was more than ready to give up their “it” status.
And what is a great game of tag without a safe spot? Our safe zone was a magnificent cottonwood tree in the front yard. My dad planted this tree soon after we moved into the humble pier and beam dwelling we called home. Dripping sweat, gasping for air, with cramps in my legs, I remember the cottonwood being a welcome sight as I ran toward it with all the strength I had left in me. “Safe!”, I would announce as I clung to its vast trunk.
Once at my safe spot, I would lay my head on the trunk. There I would refuel for the next round. I still remember the large shaded area under the tree and the rustling of the leaves as it provided much needed protection from the frequent harsh heat and humidity of South Texas. This necessary rest also gave me a chance to observe my surroundings and plan my next strategy. Strategizing was key, and it seemed that my circumstances became much clearer from this particular vantage point. I could see my opponent watching me very closely, anticipating when I would step away from safety and once again resume my previous vulnerable state. When I had sufficiently rested, I could hardly wait to get back into the game. There was just something about the rush of adrenaline that prompted me to press forward, no matter how exhausting.
Years later, when my siblings and I had children of our own, I returned to my childhood home. My two sisters and I were sitting around the kitchen table catching up on current events and strolling down memory lane. We could not help but notice the scene through the living room window.
The cousins were squealing at the top of their lungs. They were red faced and frantically running around the front and back yard. We could not help but grin when we heard the intense laughter and the words, “Tag, You’re It!”and “Safe!”, but what really got our attention was the chosen safe spot. They ran straight to the old cottonwood tree. My sisters and I looked at each other, smiled and asked, “Who told our children the tree was safe?” After discussion, it was clear none of the moms had let the cat out of the bag. It seems our children came to the conclusion on their own.
The house has since been sold and I have not been to see the old home place in a couple of years. I have a feeling that as long as the cottonwood is standing, it will be the designated safe zone for many a child.
At times, I stop and reflect about our childhood play and the cottonwood. While the tree symbolized and evoked varied memories and emotions in each of the sisters, it was clear the cottonwood was significant to all of us. Even today, the memories are so very powerful, they have prompted me to continually evaluate specific areas in my spiritual life. (and it was just a little old game of tag).
Dear sisters in Christ, what is your strength, constant, and refuge in a world of uncertainty? Where do you run when you are spiritually depleted and your perspective becomes blurred and hazy? How do you fill up when you are running on empty?
Here are some bible truths in which I find great comfort:
My Savior is forever faithful
Lord you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Psalm 90:1 (ESV)
Jesus is my protector
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wing you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day.
Psalm 91:2-5 (ESV)
He is my foundation and strength
Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
Colossians 2:6-7 (ESV)
In my weakness, Jesus restores me
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)
Jesus provides clarity and direction
My son do not lose sight of these, keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for you neck. Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble.
Lord, I ask you this day, to forgive me when I choose not to recognize the gift of your strength, direction, and protection. I ask you to please guide my heart, mind, and soul to the one and only true spot of safety, the loving arms of the Almighty. In your name I humbly pray. Amen.
Copyright © 2012, Jenny Harrison, Breath of Life Women’s Ministries. Bible scripture taken from ESV.