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Tony's Reflection 16
What do you reckon has been your biggest life decision, to date? For many of us, it’s the one we take about where to live…
Jean and I agonised over the first house we bought, in Plymouth. We felt God was calling us to outreach into quite a down at heel inner-city area. You could spot the drug dealers and their "customers" on the streets. That little area of 1500 houses had about 15 pubs. Most mornings the pavements were strewn with broken glass, vomit and leftovers from dog walkers. Did we really want to bring up our little girls there?
In some ways, where you live defines you. It can determine your life opportunities.
Our verses from Psalm 91 this week are about where we choose to live. The choices we make in response to these verses, certainly affect our "life opportunities". If we make the right choice, we receive a remarkable promise. Let's take a closer look…
"If you say, "The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent." (verses 9-10)
We are being encouraged here to make the Most High our dwelling.
There is a sense of permanence about "dwelling" somewhere, isn't there? Your dwelling or home is where you are most often found. You start your day there, you end it there. For many of us, at least during lockdown, we spend most of our daytime there, too, even when we are at work!
God longs to be close to us. He invites us to "dwell" with him. Your "dwelling" is not just somewhere you feel warm, safe and happy. It is where you spend most of your time.
What does it mean to "dwell" with God? It doesn't mean we spend most of our time praying and reading the Bible! If that were the case, only monks could "dwell" with God. It means we live our lives constantly close to God. Always referring back to Him. Constantly remembering Him. Bearing Him in mind, at least in the background, whatever we are doing. And yes, it will include times of solitude and silence with God, praying and listening to him speak to us, through the Bible.
We have plenty of choices about where we “dwell”, spiritually speaking. The pace of life in the Western world is so frantic and frenetic. Our time is claimed by friends, family, chores, duty … and there has never been a society like ours, with so much entertainment clamouring for our time! All this busy-ness and pressure can squeeze God out of the equation. We end up dwelling in our own hurriedness, rather than dwelling with God.
The default position in a modern world like ours, is that we get swept along by busy-ness. It takes a conscious choice on our part, to choose to dwell with God.
Will you choose to dwell with God, today? For the rest of the week? What will that choice look like, for you? Is there anything you will need to set aside?
The promise we are looking at today is conditional. It depends on us having made the conscious choice to "dwell with God".
God also says this promise is for those who "say the Lord is my refuge". We have come back to God being our refuge, a place of safety, warmth and security, again and again, looking at Psalm 91. If you have been following these reflections well, I am sure you have already made the Lord your refuge. You will have turned to him already, for strength, peace and safety.
Verses 9-10, though, are not just about experiencing God as our refuge. We are told the promise is ours if we "say" the Lord is our refuge. If you have already experienced God as your refuge, it is a very small step to "say" that this is so.
When trying times come, you might say it to yourself, to remind yourself that God really is your place of safety.
When trying times have passed, you might say it to others, to remind them that God really can be their place of safety, too.
You make a deliberate choice to dwell with God. You say, to yourself and others, that is your refuge. And then… this precious promise is yours:
“no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent."
Back in Old Testament days, people frequently lived in tents. This is not a promise to protect you from disaster on camping holidays. It is saying that you will be safe at home – wherever you are, in fact.
As we have seen already in this Psalm, God constantly protects his people from harm. He stops bad things from happening to us.
When they do happen, he gives us strength and peace to cope. He also gives us the promise of an everlasting life with him, where nothing harmful or evil can ever come near us, for the rest of eternity.
So, choose today to make God your dwelling. Say that he is your refuge. The most wonderful promise is then yours…