Mick’s CV Memo – Dwelling in the Shelter

While in a family zoom meeting including my brother-in-law (a Chittenango native and pastor in Pennsylvania) he recommended we reflect on Psalm 91 considering the pandemic. It is a Psalm that has brought comfort to many who have been engaged in the dangers of warfare, so I have been familiar with it.  But I have probably overlooked a major theme of its message—protection from pestilence.

Whoever 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.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

There are two conditions to the kind of protection promised in this Psalm. The beginning the psalmist says these things are true when one “dwells in the shelter”, “rests in the shadow” and affirms their trust in God like a “fortress”. These word pictures speak of humility, reliance and dependence on God and subjecting ourselves to God’s sovereign care. The close of the Psalm puts the conditions in God’s voice with the condition for His protection connected to “Because He love me”. 

Our peace in the current situation and for any frightening trial we face in the future will directly depend on our attitude toward God. Will we doubt His goodness? Will we question His ability to fulfill His promises? Will we love Him only when we are free from trials or will it continue when we don’t understand why we’re suffering (Job 1:9-11; 20-22)?

We have been told to “shelter in place” by government authorities. I agree, but not just in this situation. Unexpected and unexplained challenges are inevitable. They will continue beyond the pandemic. We will prevail when we dwell in the shelter of God. In Jesus’ final conversation with the disciples before His arrest He told them to “abide in Me” because “I am the vine; you are the branches”. As anxiety rises remember that the shelter is open, and the vine will nourish your faith to fulfill His purposes.

One of the ways we “abide in the vine” is by prayer. We initiated a 40 day fasting and prayer season as we initiated our consultation with the Center for succession and search planning. Providentially that coincided with the start of our restricted services due to the corona virus. I appreciate those who have participated and want to encourage those who are able to sign up with Rochelle. If you are wondering about how and why to spend a day of fasting and prayer you may want to review the memo sent on March 24th.

With you in Him,

Mick

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