My Refuge and My Fortress

Psalm 91

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.”

A couple years ago, I spent several days on a section of the Appalachian Trail. What started off as a beautiful morning turned dark as the day progressed. As I surveyed the skies, tall, dark clouds were looming in the distance and heading my way. My stomach churned and fear gripped me when rumbles of thunder echoed across the mountaintops. I knew the sparse trees would be of no help when the storm hit. Every step felt like I was racing against time to find somewhere to take cover. As I came around a bend in the path, a sign indicated that a trailside shelter was only one mile away! Suddenly my heart changed and instead of running from the storm, I was pursuing the shelter. My fear of the storm was replaced by faith in the safety of my destination. Each step I took, I gained confidence in knowing the refuge which awaited me. As I stepped up into the simple wooden structure and slinked off my pack, the storm erupted into a symphony around me.

I found serenity and felt the presence of God in that shelter during the storm. The lightning, thunder, wind, and rain were of little consequence to me. There was something truly beautiful about the chaos outside. I felt so small, so powerless, and yet so safe under His feathers (verse 4). God calls us all to this liminality in our lives of faith. His desire for us is to live in complete reliance on Him, no matter what threats exist outside the fortress of His name. We should seek, at the same time, to be completely exposed and completely secure. In those moments, God’s grace is sufficient, and His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

One does not have to survey the world around us for long to see signs of a raging storm. The virus has brought waves of panic and torrential winds of fear. Like a storm, there is very little that we can do about any of it. God’s calling in the midst of it all is to stop running from the storm and start pursuing the shelter. As we stop focusing on the problem and begin looking to the solution, the storm seems like nothing but light rain. The wind and the waves may persist, but resting in God’s refuge brings a peace that surpasses all understanding. Though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the sea, the command is the same: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Reflect

  1. Verse 15 lists three benefits of calling upon the name of the Lord. What are some additional benefits that God provides when we cry out to Him in the midst of the storm?  
  2. While tempting Jesus in Luke 4:10-11, Satan misuses Psalm 91:10-11. In these days of pandemic, how might you boldly trust the protection of God without “putting Him to the test”? 
  3. What do Psalm 91:4, Isaiah 40:31, Malachi 4:2 all have in common?
  4. How might you offer the shelter you have found in Christ Jesus to someone who feels helpless in the storm?

Pray

Heavenly Father, your name is my refuge. Your love is my fortress. In this storm, guide me along the path to your shelter. Reveal to me how I might bring another into the protection of your presence. I pray in the name of Jesus and for His glory, Amen.

Zac Holt, March 25, 2020
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