The Bible uses some lovely metaphors to describe God: God as a fountain of living water, Jesus as the bread of life, the Father as a mother. One of my favourite types of metaphors for God is the use of place. Here are a few quick examples:
“I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” (Psalm 91:2 NIV.)
“The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1b)
“Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.” (Psalm 62:6-7)
“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7)
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
“The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalm 46:7)
When the Bible refers to God as a fortress, it is describing God as a secure and dependable person on whom we can rely. When it suggests that God is like a hiding place, it is proposing that being with God feels like being on an island hideaway. The Bible reveals God to us in a language that we can understand and that resonates with us. I love that.
Such metaphors take me back to special personal places in my storehouse of memories. I remember a certain childhood holiday farm that I used to frequent growing up. I have many happy memories of that farm, of peace and quiet, of wild kangaroos and friendly birds, of bushwalking and swimming in the backyard pool, and of cozy roast dinners sitting by the fire.
It was a place of total seclusion, a retreat from the hustle of city life. I can still retreat there in my mind when life gets hectic. When I think of God being a place of retreat, a hiding place and a refuge, I think of that farm. It fills me with warmth and contentment.
I think that the Bible uses metaphor to encourage us to look to God for our peace and contentment. God give ourselves the peace we are looking for. We can find our contentment in His extravagant, here-and-now love. He fills us with strength when we are empty; that’s why the Bible calls him our stronghold and fortress. God gives us stability and security when our lives fall apart; that’s why the Bible refers to God as our rock.
I wrote “Haven” with these metaphors in mind. At the time of writing, the song expressed a longing for a much-needed retreat during a bad time. Like a marathon runner looking for that next cool drink, I turned to God in need of refreshment. And I found it.
God was the inspiration behind “Haven”. He reminded me that he is always there with me, in true “God-with-us” fashion. He gave me great joy in helping me to bring such a beautiful song together. He didn’t let my sickness or sadness get the better of me, and it never got the better of him. He gave the marathon runner inside my mind a chance to stop and catch her breath.
He is breathing room for my soul. He is a running stream in a humid and weary world. He is a haven for me.