There was a day back in elementary school that I got in trouble. Hard to imagine, I know. Well, this was not one of those troubles that included a call to my parents or a trip to the Principal's Office. No, this was a trouble that was waiting for me after school. Now I can't remember why my schoolmate was upset at me, but he made sure that he got his older brothers to come after me as well. I remember walking out of school and seeing the group of them waiting on the corner. Luckily for me, they did not see me yet. I dodged, dipped, ducked, and dodged again, but was noticed almost immediately. So I just had to run. I ran so fast it felt like I did not even have legs anymore. I could feel them getting closer and closer, I did not want to look back. Right when I thought they were going to grab me, I reached my yard and I was safe! What saved me from the beating on that day? The invisible force field that was my house. I looked back and saw the kids just standing there unable to get me because of the sacred childhood rules of MY BASE.
The home protects us all from many threats like bugs, heat, cold, and angry elementary kids. My parents did their best to make a home that truly felt safe. Sure my home was not perfect and there were some intense and heated moments, but for the most part, it was safe. Looking back at my home, my favorite part was not my room where my parents allowed one of my first freedoms in decorating or the living room where we got entertained for hours.
No, my favorite part of my house was the bench swing that was right outside the front window. On this bench was where life happened. It was a place for laughing, crying, discipline, and working out arguments. Horrible moments of when I learned my Grandma had passed, to joyful moments like when I told my dad that I found the girl I wanted to marry. The bench was more than a bench; it was a safe place to talk. On the bench my parents created a place that I felt safe and comfortable to talk about anything, and for them to ask me anything.
In 1 Kings 19, Elijah is in some trouble and in the need of being in a safe place. I love how God handles Elijah’s moment of crisis. Elijah has given up and fell into a deep depression and now wants to die. God provides him with rest and simple food, to help what the body needed. Next God gave Elijah a safe place to stay in the Mountain of Horeb. There God met with Elijah and instead of trying to fix his problem right away, He let Elijah talk, vent, and experience all the emotions that came with his situation. God was then able to speak into Elijah's life. In the mountain, Elijah was able to find sanctuary from his enemies, express his problems freely, and hear the intimate whisper of God.
For me, one of my biggest fears is that I won't have successful communication with my kids. I fear that they will go through life and feel like they are alone and have no safe place to rest and talk out their problems. How can I make a sanctuary for my kids? How do I get my swing bench?
- I think number one is knowing that my kids are always watching. How I react to their good and bad behavior will impact their openness to do good rather than just make sure they don’t get caught.
- Also I need to watch my off-the-cuff remarks about other situations. If my kids find themselves in a similar situation, and they think they already know how Dad feels, that could stop them from talking to me.
- And lastly trusting God to fix them and not me. That's the hard one. We do want to be the savior of our kids, but we will never do as good a job as God will. I feel that kids will feel safer with a hug and a listening ear, rather than a quick fix answer.
So families, I encourage you all to join me in finding that sanctuary / swing bench for your family. That place where your kids can come and catch their breath. Where that invisible force field stops the worries of the world even just for a short time to figure stuff out.
By Pastor Michael Jones