But God is refuge and shelter, by Janice Griswell

Psalm 91:1-4 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. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Several people I’ve talked with recently feel more insecure and fearful of the coronavirus now that their communities are re-opening. I found my sister Jan’s prayer letter for this month right on target. She and her husband Steve are missionaries in Mexico.

Dear Stuck-At-Home,
Coronavirus, COVID-19, hand sanitizer, wash with soap, hoarding, stay-at-home, shelter-in-place, lockdown, social (read: physical) distancing, face masks … who knew these would become worldwide, everyday terms in 2020?
For me, most of these are significant but ominous terms. But one was a new term for me this year and immediately brought positive associations. I realize the official meaning is more serious, but I’ve come to hear/see the term “shelter-in-place” as a reminder of Psalm 91:1-2, 4 NKJV – a precious truth and invitation:
He who DWELLS (stays centered, keeps his thoughts on – an invitation; we choose/practice, see Isa 26:3-4) in the secret place of the most high WILL ABIDE (NTV says, ‘will find rest’ – God’s promise, something we can’t do or earn, John 15, Mt 11:28-30) 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.’”“He will cover you with his feathers; he will shelter you under his wings …”

About a year ago, we visited dear friends in three different Mexican cities. The final stop was in Purepecha Indian country, and the two families we visited to teach and encourage pastors were not in town but in nearby Purepecha villages. We spent most of those days in Purepecha homes and churches. In one case, my friend suggested I wait near the wood fire in the kitchen while she ran a “quick” errand with the pastor’s wife.
I became fascinated with this lovely, mottled-brown hen in the photo who was caring for 11 chicks. What did she consider a threat? When did she scold, peck, chase, and when was it OK for them to be chirping nearby or peek out from under her wing-skirt? Even when she didn’t seem to be paying attention, she was able to quickly gather her brood under her wings, and was taking no nonsense from the chicks or apparent predators!
Psalm 91:2 continues to challenge me. The right answer, especially for a missionary is, “Of course I trust God; HE ALONE is my place of safety.” But odd and difficult times tend to reveal the truth of what we really believe … while I trust God’s goodness and sovereignty for the big stuff, like dying, eternity, and “life beyond the virus,” what about serenity in the face of today’s chronic pain, limitations, feeling judged, dismissed, or dealing with “unfair” demands or disappointments? Do I naturally turn to God for my peace, joy, and love? Do these qualities characterize me? Hmm … So, I find myself praying not so much for the physical protections of Psalm 91 for myself and others, although those are essential and valid prayers, but more for the rest and transformation only God can accomplish as I choose to “shelter-in-place.”
May God accomplish his purposes in and thru his church during this season. May he be our protector and provider, our comforter, our “nudger”, and our transformer. May our lives bring him joy as we let him be all we need!



One thought on “But God is refuge and shelter, by Janice Griswell

  1. I resonate with what you share here, Jan: Trusting God for the big picture but finding it a life-long challenge to trust Him as a place of safety in my internal world. Thank you for this beautiful picture of the hen gathering her chicks.

    Liked by 1 person

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