|Posted on March 21, 2020 at 8:30 AM|
With all the time I seem to have had on my hands this past week, Grace Notes was prepared really early. In fact, I’m even several weeks ahead, because, in times of trouble and in times of joy, God speaks to me through writing. And sometimes, when I’ve found a real place of complete obedience, He writes through me.
That process happened in the very early hours of this morning. My mind woke up fully alert, and I kept hearing the phrase “shelter in place.” I’ve been pretty resentful of that order because I’m not a woman who is happy puttering around the house or finding busy work to do. Staying put brings on more anxiety than it does comfort.
But as I began to think about the word “shelter” it brought to my mind Psalm 91. When I was a young girl, that was the first long passage that I was asked to memorize. The words mesmerized my mind and comforted me through many times of trial in my life.
It starts “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” It doesn’t read better in any translation of the bible than it does in the New King James. But I love that The Living Bible says, “We live within the shadow of the Almighty, sheltered by the God who is above all Gods.”
If we’re going to shelter in place, is there any better place than under the protection of our Father? The passage goes on to state “This I declare, that He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I am trusting Him.” The King James says, “He is my refuge and my fortress.”
The picture that the Psalmist paints is eloquent and complete. “Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler.” That’s someone who pursues wild fowl to kill and devour it. “And from the perilous pestilence.” The dictionary defines “pestilence” as a fatal epidemic disease, especially bubonic plague. So, scripture tells us God is watching out for the seen and the unseen dangers.
Verse four says “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge.” As in the natural world a bird parent would do, God encourages us to shelter in place under His protection. Nestled under His great arms, covered, safe, protected. He is saying that before anything can come against us, He will draw us into Him and protect us from harm.
What scripture doesn’t say is that the pestilence and pursuer doesn’t exist. We’re not promised a world where there isn’t any disease or dysfunction. But I can tell you that God didn’t bring it to us to “teach us a lesson” or “get us back in line,” as some are teaching these days.
Yes – He wants us to turn to Him. Yes – He wants us to understand that our shelter is under the cover of His wings. Yes – He allows us to make a real mess of the world without interfering. But it makes absolutely no sense that He would create this pandemic and then promise to comfort us through it.
The dangers and traps around us will grow and wane, come and go; but what remains constant is God’s love for us and His willingness to protect and cover us with His great grace and love. To say that we are living through this time of disease because of the sinfulness of our world is saying that we are living under condemnation. And we know from scripture that God doesn’t condemn us.
In Romans 8, Paul wrote to the Jews and the Gentiles alike, explaining God’s plan of salvation for all His children. He starts by saying “there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus… Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” In other words, God saved us from ourselves, if we’ll only accept that salvation for what it is – a gift.
Suffering, pain, strife, disease, death – that’s all in the world. We are bound to be affected by it, because we are bound by our fleshly bodies. But we have hope, and we have shelter. Paul was eloquent in his address to the Church. He asked the questions “who will condemn us? Christ? No! For He is the one who died for us… and who can keep Christ’s love from us? When we have trouble or calamity, when we are hunted down or destroyed, is it because He doesn’t love us anymore? If we’re hungry or penniless or in danger or threatened with death, has God deserted us? In the final verses of chapter 8 Paul offers this answer.
“No, for the Scriptures tell us for His sake we must be ready to face death at every moment of the day—we are like sheep awaiting slaughter; but despite all this, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us. For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the power of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, or where we are – high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean – nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when He died for us.”
For those of you who are old enough to remember, let me quote the famous radio broadcaster, Paul Harvey. “And now you know the rest of the story.”
Be blessed my friend. God is on the throne!