I am planning for vacation. One of the nice parts about vacation is the time to "sit and reflect" which I like to build into these times away. I have a great travel companion who is also quite content to curl up with a good book, take a wee nap each day, or just take in some quiet time along the water's edge. In turn, we make good use of the "refreshing" which comes from these moments of rest. I usually spend time in study and reflection - journal close at hand to capture whatever God may give. Ear buds will be in place with the favorite worship tunes playing. Aaaahhh! I can almost feel the stress melting away in those moments!
You who sit down in the High God's presence, spend the night in Shaddai's shadow, say this: "God, you're my refuge. I trust in you and I'm safe!" That's right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you—under them you're perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You'll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because God's your refuge, the High God your very own home, evil can't get close to you, harm can't get through the door. (Psalm 91:1-10 The Message)
This is one of my favorite passages from the Psalms. I turn to it often to remind myself of several things:
1. No other place provides me with the "rescue" I so desperately need. I can turn to all kinds of "self-help" gurus or books, yet none of them fits the bill as does turning "into" his presence.
2. Hidden traps abound. I often don't see what awaits me in my next steps, but he does. Those cleverly disguised "land-mines" of disaster are clearly in his view. When I make him my refuge, he maneuvers me away from those things which could be my undoing.
3. His arms are never closed. I was quite fortunate to have an awesome earthly father. One very special thing about dad was his ability to wrap me in his arms - a place of comfort and genuine love. He never resisted - even when I had disappointed him with my failure. He truly was a great example of God's love. His arms were never closed - always open to take me in and hold me close when I needed it the most - just like my heavenly Father's!
4. Fear nothing. This passage reminds me to be without fear, regardless of what I face. It does not say I won't face stuff which is fearful. It positions me in a place where what is fearful to most need not be fearful to me - simply because of where I am positioned. When we are safe under the arms of the Almighty God, there is nothing to fear - even though it looks fearful in the natural. This became real to me one morning when I was awaiting the surgery to remove an abnormal growth in my body. Cancer abounds in my family, so imagine my fear. As I stood in the shower, crying out to God, he spoke ever so clearly, "I promised you'd never have to fear cancer - you may face it, but you need not fear it!" This changed my whole disposition from fearing what appeared fearful to trusting God to deal with what I was fearing.
5. Evil cannot get close. Harmful things which are planned to bring harm to us have no standing in his presence. The closer we are to him - the easier it is for harm to be repelled. It simply cannot touch us when we are rightly secured in his presence.
6. We have power to shut the door to harm. In drawing close to God, we shut the door to harm. I want to share what the dictionary has to tell us about harm. First, it is moral injury. The ability to shut the door to what will "corrupt our morals" is made easier when we are closer to the one who has written the book on "good morals". Second, it is mental damage. Nothing messes with our minds more than what we are fearful of something. In turn, our emotions all go haywire. There is no greater place of "stability" than in his presence - bringing balance to otherwise quite unreliable emotions. Last, it is the damage left in its wake. You know, a boat's wake is only of concern to the one who is following too close to the boat in the first place! When we are securely in his care, he navigates us away from the evil - keeping us clearly out of its wake and the damage it may cause.
You may be planning your vacation, as well. Be sure to work in some time for drawing into God's presence. Don't plan out every moment so tightly so as to exclude him from any place in your itinerary. You will be the best when you are the closest to him!