Shelter

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 
This I declare about the Lord: 
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; 
He is my God, and I trust Him.”
Psalms‬ ‭91:1-2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

What a tremendous Psalm this is. Tradition has it that it was written by Moses, but whoever the writer was, he managed to capture wonderful and encouraging truths, just as relevant for life today as they were all those years ago. The psalm starts off with the idea that God provides shelter for those who want it, for those who live a life in relationship with Him. And in that shelter God’s people will find rest. The Psalmist continues by boldly stating that he will find rest because God will keep him safe from whatever life-issues he is encountering in his journey. And at the end of verse 2, the Psalmist simply states that he trusts God.

We think about these words, “rest”, “refuge”, and “safety”. Somehow our spirits are drawn to the idea of such places because our daily lives can be so frantic that we become frazzled to the point of exhaustion, to a point where we need to get off the merry-go-round of life and take time out. “Stop the world – I want to get off” was a phrase popular a few years ago. Most people plan to take a holiday, the thought of which sustains them in the weeks and months before they go, providing some sort of temporary relief from the stresses and strains of their situation. But when they return, the merry-go-round is still there, as frantic as ever. But God through the Psalmist points out a better way, available in the now, available when needed, available when our spirits crave rest. And after a spell in His shelter, where we enjoy the God-rest we need, we can emerge back into the world refreshed, and able to once again face into our busy lives.

Are we rest-needy people today? Look at the two words describing the place where we can find the rest we need – “shelter” and “shadow”. One tangible, one intangible. In the first case, we can physically take time out, sitting at God’s feet, praying and reading His Word. During a lunch break. First thing in the morning. Whenever we can. Thus recharging our spiritual and emotional batteries. In the second case, we can, in times of stress, look up, and “see” God’s shadow over us, through our memories, through the Words we have read, through our prayers. God has thought of all situations we are likely to meet in our lives. His loving provision is absolute. So join me today, spending time with our Heavenly Father. As the old song says, “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.

“Truly”

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. 
Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I shall never be shaken. 
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. 
Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I shall not be shaken. 
My salvation and my honour depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. 
Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
Psalms‬ ‭62:1-2, 5-8‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

Truly isn’t a word in everyday usage. You don’t hear someone say, “Truly, that car is a lovely colour”, or, “Truly, the weather was good this morning”. But there is something about the word that underpins some great sentiments in this Davidic Psalm. “Truly, my soul finds rest in God” builds a picture of a place of safety, a warm place of love and peace. Many would perhaps wonder if such a place exists, but that was the very point of David’s choice of the word “Truly”. What he was describing was completely and totally true. His experience of, and relationship with, God Himself was true. And he goes on to describe a dependable God. One who is his salvation. A God who provides safety and a solid foundation in an impregnable place. He uses words such as “Fortress” and “Refuge”. “Hope”, “Rest” and “Salvation”. 

The place David was talking about was, to him, very real and true. Of course he was not referring to a physical place. He was in a spiritual place, where his soul was safe from destruction. A place where enemies and circumstances could not reach him. It was a place where the presence of God was so real and strong to him that, truly, he was in a different world. And the amazing thing was that he was unshakeable – there was nothing in the physical world around him that would destroy his trust and hope in God.

How do we think God thought about David? After all, he had a spectacular moral meltdown over his adultery with Bathsheba, and the attempted cover up that followed. Surely that was enough to separate David from God forever. The truly amazing thing is that God considered David as being a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). You see, it is only unconfessed sins that block God’s love and grace. David put his heart right with God – we can read about the conversation he had with Him in Psalm 51.

Finally, in verse 8, David, from his position of unshakeable strength, appeals to those around him to join him in this place, the fortress and refuge, built on the Rock that is God Himself. He implores the people to “Trust in Him at all times“. That’s a problem for many of us because although we find it possible to trust God in the good times, we don’t find it so easy when times are hard. When a sick loved one is knocking on Heaven’s door. When an unexpected bill hits the doormat. But that is exactly the time when we need to be with God, in His presence. Is David’s invitation possible to accept? Jesus told the parable of the Marriage Feast – we can read it in Matthew 22 – and He finished up with the comment, “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” Let us be counted among the “few”, chosen to be part of the ultimate refuge.

The Refuge

“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.” Psalms‬ ‭46:1-3‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

These three verses have been a tremendous comfort and support for many people over the years. They are often quoted in times of stress. They are the go-to verses read and uttered by God’s people when facing into some calamity or other. Look at the words the Psalmist uses; “Refuge”, “Strength”, “Help”, “Fear” and the very descriptive picture of an apocalyptic scene as our planet’s infrastructure collapses. Look at the contrast between the security of being in God, and the potentially disastrous state of being away from Him.

The contrast is between two kingdoms – the spiritual and the physical. Two worlds that we can access but so often we ignore the one and only dwell in the other. Of course this is perfectly understandable because we are physical beings with our feet firmly located on the home where we were born – Planet Earth. And we therefore try and look at everything around us through physical eyes and discount the spiritual world because we can’t see it. But it is there nevertheless, as many people over the ages will testify. How else do God’s people sustain themselves when tortured, imprisoned, and ill treated, all because of their faith in a God who one day will welcome them into His Kingdom, His world?

The wonderful and amazing thing is that we have an opportunity to be present in both worlds. Now. At this very moment. We can draw on the resources of God’s spiritual Kingdom to help and support us in our earthly world. God is inviting us to be part of His Kingdom, not just when we are facing into a calamitous situation, but all the time. And the access door is open this very moment – through God’s Son Jesus. Message me if you want to know more.

Although we start our life in the natural environment around us we will transition one day into a totally different spiritual environment, which itself consists of two worlds – God’s world, and another place where He is not present. Far better to enjoy the benefits of being a part of both God’s spiritual world and the physical world where we live while we have the choice. Because one day that choice will be removed from us.

The picture of an impregnable place in God that not only protects us from all dangers, but also resources us and strengthens us to face into impossible situations seems too good to be true. But it’s too good not to be true. Join me there today.