Thursday, June 28, 2012

I Will Abide

               I woke to a song in my head this morning, a song that spoke to me about abiding in the shelter of God’s love, abiding under the shadow of His wings. The scripture that came to mind as I was singing this song in my head was Psalm 91:1. With the heat of summer pressing in on us, the thought of shade was welcome to me today. But David tells us of an eternal shade, a shadow and a dwelling place that is reserved for those of us who put our trust in the Lord God.
                “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1. As I read this passage, I was reminded of a mother hen who takes her chicks under her wings and protects them. All of this led me to a story that I found on the internet that goes along with what the Lord God was showing me today.
            A group of young college students were helping measure range damage after a wildfire raged across the prairie outside their university town. As they walked over the expanse of blackened earth, they noticed a cluster of small smoldering mounds. One of the volunteers was particularly interested in the unidentifiable heaps and asked one of the more experienced range managers what they were.
This veteran of many range fires replied that he had seen this phenomenon on a few occasions and suggested that the young man turn over one of the piles. He did. To his great surprise several sage grouse chicks ran out from under the upturned mound. He was fascinated. How incredible, he thought, that these little chicks had known to find and run underneath this mysterious shelter.
The young man asked what the mound was and how the chicks knew to take refuge there. To his amazement, he was told that the smoldering heap was the remains of their mother. When there is danger the mother hen instinctively calls out to her young ones and stretches out her wings for them to run under and find protection in her embrace. The young man was profoundly moved by this symbol of a mother’s innate love and protection.
Every day we are given a chance to dwell and abide under the protection of the Almighty God, who desires to gather us under His wings and keep us safe from the evil that is among us. But how many times have I chosen to not listen to His call and go my own way? How many times have I chosen to fill my days with worry and fear, instead of hiding under His wings? Everyday has trials and tribulations, every day we are faced with choices to make. The Lord God promises us protection from every evil, from sickness, from destruction, from the arrows, and to shield us from our fears.(Psalm 91) Yet, we choose not to dwell under that protection.
                Jesus spoke in Matthew 23:37b, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” And the key word in this scripture is “willing”. David states “He who dwells” which means to remain or stay. It is a choice we are given every day. We can choose to abide and dwell under the protection of our God, the Supreme God, or we can choose to do it our way.
                Recently, on Facebook, there was a picture posted of two men in a body of water. One man was clinging to a cross that was above the water line, and the other man was treading water. The man in the water was struggling to stay afloat, but the man who was clinging to the cross was in perfect peace. Which one are you? Are you choosing to do everything in your own strength, struggling to stay afloat through the trials and the struggles of daily living, or are you choosing to cling to the cross in the midst of the storms of this life? Just as a mother hen calls out to her young chicks to come under her protection when danger is near, so is our God, calling out to us to come and dwell in the safety of His love for us. The mother hen sacrifices her own life for her baby chicks. Jesus Christ has sacrificed His for you, His child. But the choice is still ours.
                In a commentary on Psalm 91, it was stated that “The omnipotent God will shield all those who dwell with Him, they shall remain under His care as guests under the protection of their host. Those who commune with God are safe with Him; no evil can reach them, for the outstretched wings of His power and love cover them from harm. This protection is constant, they abide under it- and it’s all sufficient- for it is the shadow of the Almighty, whose omnipotence will surely screen them from all attack. No shelter can be imagined at all comparable to the protection of Jehovah’s own shadow. The Almighty Himself is where His shadow is, and hence who dwell in His secret place are shielded by Him. The more closely we cling to our Almighty Father, the more confident may we be.” (The Treasury of David Commentary)
David is not telling us that danger will not happen, that trials and tribulations will not come, what he is telling us is that God promises to protect us from all harm. When the fire rages, and danger is near, we can find shelter under our Father in heaven, we can find shelter from the storms that roar around us, there is a place we can go to be safe. When Paul was shipwrecked in the island of Malta, he was helping out and gathered a bunch of sticks for the fire. As he picked up the sticks a viper came out and bit his hand. (Acts 28:3-6) Everyone around him expected him to drop dead, but he didn’t. He shook the viper off and went about teaching and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
                Paul knew that no evil could befall him unless his God, Almighty God had preordained it. Paul was abiding and dwelling in the secret place of the Most High God, and Paul made God his refuge. When we dwell in the secret place of the Most High, when we choose to abide under the shadow of the Almighty, we have nothing to fear. For nothing can happen to us that God has not already placed His seal of approval on. We have nothing and no one to fear when we choose to make God our refuge. We can either cling to the Cross or we can continue to tread water. We can burn up in the flames of life, or we can take refuge under the outstretched wings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The choice is yours. What choice will you make today?
Father God, we thank you for your protection. Today, with uplifted hands and a cry in our hearts we make you our refuge, we choose to hide under the shadow of your wings, and cling to you alone. We place our hope and our trust in you hands. Because we have chosen to make you our refuge, no evil shall befall us, no plague shall come against us, you will keep charge over us, and you will be with us, to deliver us from the evil that is to come. May your name be exalted and glorified, forever and ever. Amen and Amen.