Back in the day when Conference Program Staff gathered in the Huddle Space for Tuesday devotions, a frequent topic of conversation was “Where have you seen God lately?” I always enjoyed those discussions, not only to share what was on my heart, but to hear what was on the heart of my sisters and brothers and all of the different and unique ways they experienced “God Sightings”.
On a recent morning commute into the Conference Center, I had my radio tuned Sirius XM’s Classic Vinyl channel (a favorite of the old fogeys) and a song played that I have probably heard a hundred times before. But today, the introduction and the lyrics just struck me differently- similar to when you read a familiar scripture and it speaks to you in a new and different way.
Even though the opening harmony and melody of The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” is so immediately recognizable, it was simply seeing the word “shelter” on my screen that really caught my attention that day - - the feeling of that safe haven amidst the tumultuous world that sometimes surrounds us (especially now).
Ooh, a storm is threatening
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Ooh yeah I’m gone a fade away.
And while the inspiration for the song came from the death, devastation, and inhumanity of the Vietnam War and spoke to the hopelessness that existed for some at that time, it also spoke to the need to reach out, to find that shelter, to find comfort, to find a path away from despair.
Still sounding familiar?
I suspect Mick Jagger and Keith Richards didn’t contemplate any scriptures when they wrote this song, or that they were suggesting that the listener find shelter in God; but I found it interesting how many scriptures speak to “shelter”. Psalm 46:1-4 (NIV) in particular spoke to me:
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the City of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.”
If you are so inclined, spend a little time to find the “shelter” scripture that speaks to you (Isaiah 41:10 and 2 Samuel 22:3 are pretty good too).
Another interesting fact about the song is that the female vocalist (Merry Clayton) that joins Jagger is an American soul and gospel singer, born on Christmas Day, the daughter of Eva B. Clayton and Reverend A.G. Williams, Sr.
So yeah, God sightings are everywhere, in a variety of unique and personal ways: Where have you seen God today?
For whatever storms you are experiencing, I pray that you seek God’s shelter to comfort and sustain you.