Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2
I remember a time when I was probably 4-5 years old where I absolutely and positively loved life. I think about it often when I have one of those days or seasons when my world gets challenging. The occasion that captures my memory was a family trip to St. Louis. We often took long weekends and enjoyed going to Cardinal’s baseball games. In fact, we would go to the entire series that weekend. Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. For a little kid, walking into Busch Stadium was almost too much to take in. The smell of hotdogs and cigars, the green AstroTurf, perfect dirt and the sound of the organ. I recall watching players like Lou Brock, Joe Torre (end of his career), Kenny Reitz, Tommy Herr, Keith Hernandez, Willie McGee, George Hendricks and who can forget Ozzie Smith. Yes, good memories!
But this memory etched in my brain had nothing to do with baseball. It was in the back seat of our Buick station wagon on the trip down with my toy bear. (Yes, I had a toy bear.) As we were just outside St. Louis, my mom did her usual, “Hey kids, look at the arch!” That would perk me and my two sisters up knowing that our weekend destination was close. After taking a long stare at the massive Gateway to the West, I looked out the window and I had this thought. “Life is good! I feel so safe and excited. I have nothing to worry about because dad is driving, mom is here too, and we are going to have fun!”
Fast forward years later, that little boy who thought everything was so good, would begin to experience something different. Life was not being very kind; I didn’t feel safe and certainly was not excited about the breakup of our home. Mom and dad were present, but the fun stopped. Dad surrendered the steering wheel of our family and as both went their separate ways, we drove off a cliff. This resulted in wounds received, the bear that brought comfort to a little boy was now stuffed away into a closet, and the joy and anticipation that every child should experience was now replaced with worry. What happened to the family that I felt so safe and secure with just a few years before?
For most adults who experienced something similar growing up, you like me learned to navigate life with the same wounds that hurt us so deeply when we were younger. We told ourselves it was just life. It is who we are and we will get through it. I have done that for years, while raising a loving family, leading a wonderful church and leading leaders. You learn to live with pain, worry, anxiety and fears. You dismiss bad days as bad days. I lived this way until God showed me that the little boy who felt so secure before could experience that joy again. What? I know life can be good, but you mean I don’t have to navigate around the hurt? I can be free of the worry? I can live life with great anticipation.? How? Let us just say it has to do with where we are living and who is doing the driving. Grab a hold of this...
Psalm 91 in its first two verses reminds me of sitting in the back seat of the family car when dad and mom were in control with dad driving and mom probably reading a magazine. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High...” Where am I choosing to live my life in the good and the bad days? Where we choose to live in our hearts and minds is our choice. Yes, life can come at us with pain, but we still have a choice where we are going to dwell. I have learned that many times when the enemy has stolen my joy, robbed me of a positive outlook and caused me to worry, I often have chosen to not live where God’s Word abides. I chose to believe the lies and begin to experience the pain without the peace. Think about this... That would be like me that day when I was 4 or 5 in the back seat with my bear telling my dad to pull over so I can get out and miss what the family was about to experience. That would be crazy, so why do I do that with my Heavenly Father when life gets hard? I choose where I dwell, where I live and where I endure hardships. I choose, and I hope you choose to get back where you belong, dwell in the shelter of the Most High!
When I choose to dwell in God’s presence, I also choose to trust in the one I am dwelling in. When mom shouted out the Arch sighting, I took my time staring at this massive steel structure. I wasn’t watching the road. That was dad’s job. I trusted him because he was dad and had the driver’s license. I didn’t even think about the road or the cars that surrounded us going in the same direction with 6 lanes of traffic. My attention was on the silver wonder, dad’s attention was making sure we got to where we were going. When I choose to worry over trusting God, it is like me as a 5-year-old telling dad to move over and let me drive. Sounds silly doesn’t it, but that is what we do when we choose to worry, fret and allow our wounds to make us into control freaks. We get in the driver’s seat and we wonder why we keep making a mess. A 5-year-old isn’t going to navigate St. Louis traffic very well. My God can only be my refuge and fortress when I choose to trust Him and let Him drive.
The Most High is Abba Daddy God. He is our Heavenly Father. I know life is hard and for some that started very early. Wounds are real and so in the pain. But we through Jesus Christ have been given a choice on how we can live it out. We can choose to dwell in who and where God is or we can decide instead to worry in our wounds. Dwelling in God’s presence is such a better option. We can also make the decision of who is driving. Trust in the Lord is you and me taking ourself out from behind the wheel and leaving the driving to God. When we let Dad drive we get to where we need to be, enjoying life again.