Shelter in Presence

GRACE-WARD!

One out of every four Americans (including all of us who live in the “Golden State” of California), have come under an expression of the “new normal” called a “Sheltered in Place” order. This order compels every man, woman, boy and girl to stay inside their home and limit all trips out to those that are absolutely essential. Regardless of how you feel about it, the shelter in place order is meant to serve as a protective buffer between you and hazardous influences that would otherwise harm you.
Although this order can be an effective strategy to prevent the spread of viruses it does nothing to protect your heart from the destructive spiritual and emotional viruses of fear, anxiety and despair.

You and I need a different kind of shelter to protect us  from these viruses. The good news is that there is a shelter against the fear, anxiety and despair. That shelter is not a shelter in place order, instead it’s the offer of our omnipotent God to Shelter in Presence! It’s in the shelter of God’s presence that our soul’s are protected from those toxic spiritual viruses.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust. (Psalm 91:1,2)

As we observe the example of the Psalmist in Psalm 46:1-3 we gain instruction on what it takes for us to shelter in God’s presence during seasons of uncertainty.

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 46:13)

For us to shelter in God’s presence first we must DECLARE WHO GOD IS. This Psalm is like a faith-building concerto composed of three clear movements that each end with the instruction to “Selah” pause, rest and reflect. In each movement the Psalmist declares who God is:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (vs.1) …the God of Jacob is our fortress. (vs.7)
…the God of Jacob is our fortress. (vs.11)

It helps us to find shelter in God’s presence when we pause to reflect on and declare who God is

We also learn from the Psalmist that if we want to shelter in God’s presence it requires that we RESPOND TO WHO GOD IS. It’s not enough to declare who God is if we don’t change the way we think or act in response. The Psalmist says in essence “It’s because I know God is my refuge, strength and ever-present help,

THEREFORE (I) we will not fear  (vs.2)

This is not a denial that he ever feels the emotion of fear. Rather, it’s a refusal to allow that fleeting emotion to become a settled attitude. If the Psalmist were speaking during the New Testament era he would say

If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

Lastly, the Psalmist shows us that in order to shelter in God’s presence we have to REMEMBER GOD CONTROLS IT ALL.  The immovable nature of the mountains and there permanence of the earth make them the picture safety, stability and security. However, when the institutions and resources that seem to be the most permanent and unmovable are being shaken and caving in beneath us where do we look to find stability? We look to the One who created all things and is still in sovereign control over it all.

I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— (Psalms 121:1-3)

Are you fearful? Are you buffeted by anxiety or being washed over with waves of despair? Whether you are under a shelter in place order or not, you always have God’s offer to shelter in His presence!

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