One of the things I remember from my days as an outdoor hobbyist is this: You can make it three weeks without food, three days without water….but in an inhospitable winter environment, you’ll be fortunate if you can make it three hours without shelter. That’s not to say that food and water aren’t important. You can’t live without them. But in a survival situation, adequate shelter is the first thing you need.
An article from the March issue of Christianity Today (which, by the way, you can find in the new magazine rack of our church library) describes shelter being offered the thousands of migrants entering Greece from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The numbers of refugees are staggering. One makeshift refugee camp is at Galatsi Hall, in Athens…the place where Greece hosted the Summer Games in 2004. It hosted 10,000 refugees the first 45 days it was open! The article tells how Greece is a unique player in the current refugee crisis because it is the “front porch” to Europe and a mere stop along the way for those fleeing war and religious persecution in their home countries. Once upon a time refugees to Europe would stay up to a year there. No longer. Now most are in Greece only two or three days before moving on. “We once had a chance to get to know them and share the gospel,” one church leader in Greece said. Now, “we look at these people as long-term residents of Europe, and we try to focus on being the best hosts at the entrance.” Before people can eat the bread of Christian faith they must first know they are safe and warm. Survival cannot last long without food and water. But it begins with being welcomed in.
The Revelation text for the Fourth Sunday of Easter gives a picture of Jesus as we will see Him at the end of time: the Good Shepherd, the One guiding His own to springs of living water and providing shelter for those “coming out of the great tribulation” (7:15). That is a true picture of Jesus as we will see Him one day. But Jesus is already our Good Shepherd today. Though we do not see Him, He welcomes us into His presence. Though we deal with the raging storms of life, He shelters us. Where we find ourselves right now might just be one stop along the road of life. But Home isn’t far away!
On this Good Shepherd Sunday, we do not know what lies around the corner, but we know where the journey ends. Let’s put our trust in our Loving Savior to shelter us and lead us on.