Psalm 91:1-2 (NLT)
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.
As I sat down at my kitchen table earlier this morning I was tempted with an inclination to start praying about my concerns right away. Concerns about my own life as well as those I love and care about. But as Kim Walker-Smith filled my kitchen with worship I held off…sat still…closed my eyes and focused on Him. Not my concerns, my fears or my questions. Jesus. I remembered how really being in His presence, offering all of myself just as I am, provides me with everything I need for those concerns, fears and questions. See, everything I need is in Jesus. Peace, joy, wisdom, discernment, direction, courage…it’s in Him. I did, however, ask one thing in particular of Him. I asked Jesus to wash my heart and my mind. The way I think, my attitudes and perceptions and most of all my desires. Oh that once again my greatest desire would be to rest in His nearness.
In the shadow of the Almighty.
I felt a tug on my heart to look up verses on trust this morning. Indeed a dear friend is burdened and striving for direction. She was on my heart this morning as I was reading over scripture and then my heart caught on the one above. Goodness but I know about striving. For answers. For His presence. For direction. For my place. All striving ever brought me was exhaustion. Surrender, however, brings a wave of grace to my heart and life. Sometimes the wave crashes over me and takes apart all of my prideful notions of performing and formulating. Sometimes the wave is little more than a ripple, an invitation to wade in deeper…to find shelter.
To live in the shelter of the Most High.
I know why the simple verses above touch my heart this morning. Living in the shelter of the Most High and resting in the shadow of the Almighty describes a person tucked in tight. Tucked into the presence of God. Tucked into the nearness of Jesus. You can’t be in someone’s shadow unless you are up close. You can find shelter without entering in. Without coming underneath.
I appreciate the deep treasures I’ve been taught from God’s Word. Guidance about how to pray and how to believe. What God says about our faith in Him and how His love must weave continously throughout all we are asking and believing. But is it okay if I share something so precious with you this morning? For some of us, especially those of us so bent on doing it “right,” we can easily get tangled in the “how-to’s” of praying and believing and seeking without ever coming underneath. Without ever being up close. Without ever entering in.
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety..
Can you see it? Jesus the person, alone, is our refuge. Our safe place. Our best efforts won’t bring us clarity. Even praying our best prayers and confessions won’t bring us answers. Our striving does not create a place of safety for our hearts, our planning and working and shaking Him down will not create a refuge. Everything we need to hear about our lives is spoken as we rest in the shadow.
If you have children, picture yourself cuddled up to them at bedtime. Your son or daughter tucked in tight against you as you caress his forehead and whisper sweet words of love and assurance as he relaxes against you…rests in the comfort and closeness of a mighty mom or dad…living in the shelter of security you provide.
That’s how my heart sees this scipture today. It’s certainly okay to talk with God about our concerns and pour out our hearts! But how often do we strive in our time with Him, from a distance, rather than coming underneath His shelter and resting in His shadow? How often do we grasp and grapple with Him rather than relax in the refuge and safety He offers?
There are times for pouring ourselves out before Him, as messy as it can be at times. But every day is the right day to get tucked in tight. To rest. Hear the whispers God longs to speak to our hearts. See, I fully believe it’s only in taking shelter in the Most High we hear the invitation to rest in His shadow. And I fully beleive it is only in resting from our striving, simply asborbing the nearness of Jesus, that we begin to experience in very real life what we have been declaring all along:
He is my God, and I trust Him.
If I trust Jesus, if I really know He is my God, perhaps I can rest. Let go. Hear the whisper of direction and comfort I need before I even ask. Have needs met I wasn’t even aware I had until He touched me in the shadow. Until He uncovered me in the safe place. Until my striving is finally revealed in the light of His grace and power.
How did I ever come to believe I could produce results? How long would I live outside of His shelter, calling out to Him from down the road as I pass Him by…on my way to church…on my way to the next small group or Sunday school class…on my way to serve…to teach…to do and strive and prove and become? When I live this way who is my God? Is it really the Most High? The Almighty?
Or is it me?
This past Sunday as I drove to church for an orientation class I lead once a month my heart whispered, You know I got nothin’. I have nothing to offer in and of myself. I’ve been so emptied this past year. I got nothin’. Give me what You’ve got and forgive me for the days I don’t pray this prayer.
Does that sound unfortunate to you? Like I don’t know who I am in Christ? Cause let me tell you, I’ve come to believe it’s music to His ears. It’s a letting go. It’s a crisper understanding of who I am in Christ than I had for most of my life. He is good. He is able. He produces results. He has the answers. He is joy. He is peace. He is stability and boldness and grace. He is unconditonal love and power to persevere.
I am those things and have those things in only one place.
In Christ. Coming underneath the shelter. Resting in the shadow. Hearing and receiving all that I need. Tucked in tight to His nearness.