When I read verses like Psalm 91, my hands get a little sweaty.
I wonder, have I dwelt this week? Have I gone to find that mysterious shelter and have I spent enough time there? Will I receive these promises if I’m not spending specifically motivated but serious moments in a state of meditation?
Take a look at Psalm 91:1-16 with me: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
“For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
“A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.
“Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.
“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
So what is it to dwell, to abide, or to remain (word used depends on your Bible version) in or with the Lord?
In keeping it real, I must admit that I’ve struggled with the concept of dwelling physically. After spending years in women’s Bible studies, going to conferences, and following biblical fads, I would try to conform to my teacher’s or the latest superstar speaker’s methods of connecting (or abiding) with my invisible Lord. For someone whose mind races pretty much 24/7, I found traditional quiet time, a difficult endeavor. I would read various books on the spiritual disciplines and then guilt myself into following an author’s prescribed plan for officially “dwelling.”
I thought I’d miss out on the promises in the above Scriptures if I didn’t do it right – if I didn’t’ put myself physically in some mysterious, spiritual location and sit there.
But that’s all changed.
And it can change for you, too, if you’re struggling with the traditionally prescribed formulas for dwelling in the shelter of the Lord.
I once thought I had to have an advanced doctrinal degree to understand the complicated mysteries of Christ. But because the Bible interprets the Bible, I found that the doctrines of Christ are not nearly as complicated as I’ve made them out to be.
By digging around in the Word, I found answers to my naïve quandaries and explanations to things that seemed untouchable for my wee little brain.
What’s wild about the key verses today is that we’re given insight into the action of the believer and the reaction of our God. It’s in the second statement: “I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” that I was given a clue as to what dwelling meant.
Dwelling is not necessarily expansive times of sitting before our invisible God, but more a state of consciousness, or a living, hourly, in the realm of trust. When the psalmist declared that he would say, God is my refuge and fortress, He made a declaration of great trust. To have great trust in something is to put yourself in that something/somebody’s hands or under that something/somebody’s authority at any given moment.
Yes! Quiet times matter. Stilling our hearts and minds and reading or thinking about Scripture (Truth) is needed for our own spiritual health. But “dwelling/abiding/remaining” in the Lord is state of being that isn’t reserved for special get-away moments. It’s an every moment, 24/7 hour, state of mind.
According to the Greek Word used in the famous verses “I am the vine,” verses found in John 15, the definition of “to dwell” is: to stay, to be given a place, to continue, to endure, to remain, or to tarry. In other words, to dwell is more of a state of consistency. And to dwell in the shelter of the Most High is to dwell in the shelter of His trust; His promises.
Consider Colossians 3:1-2: If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Here’s my Laurie Language translation of this verse: If you are not a grave dweller, but a child raised to life, then you are to be looking for heavenly perspective concerning all things you encounter.
I want to make it clear that I am not bashing the traditional quiet-time mandate. In Psalm 46:10, God says to be still and know. Getting still and quiet in our “prayer closets” gives our minds the opportunity to hear and hear clearly from the Lord who lives in us. But … and this is a huge but … if Christ lives inside each of us, then you and I have the opportunity to dwell or remain or abide in that truth 24/7 – at our jobs, doing laundry, walking the dog, visiting with friends, changing diapers, and even sleeping.
Dwell by letting this truth wash through your clouded thoughts. Today and beyond, both you and I can dwell, or abide, or remain by basking in the promises found in Psalm 91, our key Scripture today.
Go ahead, be brave, and dwell in the truths of God all the day long. And you will be living every moment in the shadow of the Almighty — in His Shelter.