However, these birds are special. There are six of them and all have crippled feet. I was quite amazed when I first noticed this. I was even more surprised at the way they hang out together inside the station building. The other pigeons fly around the platforms and tracks and sit in the trees outside.
For the last few months I have been facing a difficult situation that left me doubting myself, my character and my writing ability. I was in Wellington two weeks ago and as I shared a bread roll with the birds, God dropped a picture into my mind. These pigeons have found a safe place in the station. They have distanced themselves from a difficult situation.
As the day progressed, I sensed that God was telling me I needed to do the same; that I needed to find a safe place in Him. As the revelation sunk in, my heart began to heal and by the time I returned to Christchurch the next morning, I had made a total 180 degree change in my thinking. The power of the situation to hurt me was completely gone and I was confident in myself again.
Then Monday 13th June arrived. It was exactly two weeks after my trip to Wellington and I was in Palmerston North. I boarded my flight home at 1pm and shortly after takeoff the pilot told us that Christchurch had suffered another large aftershock. “We’ve been cleared to continue the flight but the navigational equipment at Christchurch Airport will need to be checked before we land.”
Anxiety surfaced and I spent some time worrying about what would happen if we were diverted. It was a relief when the pilot told us we were cleared to land. Our flight touched down at 2:20pm, the same time the 6.3 earthquake shook Christchurch. The ground must have just stopped shaking as we hit the tarmac. I don’t think the pilot was aware anything had happened as nothing was said. As we taxied in, I tried calling Kevin four or five times to come and fetch me but couldn’t get through. That’s odd, I thought. We then disembarked to be met with the sight of fire engines next to our plane and firemen in hi-vis vests. As we entered the terminal building, people were surging out of the doors on the opposite side. “Evacuate! Head to your nearest exit! We’re evacuating the airport!”
I got swept up in the crowd, realising another big earthquake must have just happened. Outside the terminal building people stood in clumps, stress and fear etched on their faces. I was shaken and felt quite panicky. Are my family alright? How big was it? Has it caused more damage? I kept trying to call and text but the phone lines were overloaded and nothing went through. Eventually I decided to start walking home while trying to call. It was on the road that I heard a little whisper in my soul. What happened to your safe place?
Wellington Station and the pigeons flashed into my mind and God began to speak. Your safe place is in me. It’s not necessarily physical but it’s in knowing that I am always with you; that nothing surprises me. It’s finding a safe place in your mind, in your thoughts.
It has transformed my life and although my heart still races if I awake to a house that’s banging and shaking, I have a new peace that God is in control. I have found a safe place in Him.
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.
Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV)