Originally published Monday, 12 October 2020.
I love to travel. I love seeing new places and coming home packed with memories to savor. But often I don’t sleep well on trips, even when we stay in the best hotels. Whether our days are full of sightseeing, hiking, and shopping, or sleeping late and laying by the pool, I never fully let down. Add to that this summer’s concern about the Coronavirus and it’s hard to feel very relaxed anywhere except home where we have more control over who we spend time with and how clean our surroundings are.
Even under our current restrictions, home feels good. I sleep better in our bed than any other and everything here is familiar and cozy. I have my books and favorite chair, coffee mugs, and snuggly blankets, yard, and kitchen. I can be myself here.
Maybe that’s why Psalm 91 means so much to me. I first heard it as a child when Mom would occasionally quote it by heart from the King James Version—poetic language, delivered with the gentle passion of a woman who loves God with her whole being. But in recent years, I began to claim it as my own and it has changed my life:
“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.’ Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart”Psalm 91:1-4, NIV
In this passage, I have discovered God is not just my Savior, Friend, Shepherd, Rock, Provider, Healer, and all the other descriptive names for Him in the Bible. Verse one assures me that Jesus is also my Home. I can dwell in Him, rest in Him. He is my safe refuge; the shelter I can trust in no matter what dangers lurk outside.
COVID-19 may shut down our world and threaten our sense of physical safety, but He never changes. Even with social distancing, masks, and constant hand washing, my husband and I did contract the virus. As we spent time in isolation, miserable with headaches, nausea, etc. God was here with us. We praised Him for being our safe shelter, for covering us with His wings and whispering words of love throughout our illness and recovery.
Like a mother hen who pulls her chicks in close—to protect, warm, and nurture them, she provides her young with a place to rest; God does the same for us. However, you cannot rest if you do not dwell. The reason we can’t rest completely when we’re away from home is that we don’t live there. We don’t have our stuff; the surroundings are unfamiliar. Other people come and go, make noise, and disrupt our privacy. But if we make God our dwelling, anywhere can be home.
The older I get and the more our world spins out of control, the more I realize this is not my home. Even our house is not my true home. We get to enjoy it for a little while, but so many things remind me it’s not my forever place.
It constantly needs repair and maintenance in order to remain attractive and comfortable. And outside influences could suddenly change how much “at home” I feel here. Our neighbors could party every night until 2:00 am or decide they don’t like us anymore. Fire or flood, vandalism or crime could rip through our community and destroy our sense of peace.
Unlike our house, God remains unaffected by outside influences. Whenever I begin to feel anxious and threatened by circumstances or people, or even by my own thoughts and emotions, it helps to remind myself of this truth in a shortened version of Psalm 91:1—She who dwells will rest.
When I choose to make the Lord my home—where I find comfort and security—I can truly rest. No matter where I am. No matter who I’m with. Whether I’m sick or well. Even when storms rage and people panic in confusion. The Most High is my shelter and refuge. I will live with Him, IN Him, forever.
Beth Vice is a wife, author, speaker, mom, mother-in-law, grandma, and Jesus seeker. She loves taking care of her husband Kelly and the home they share on the Oregon coast. She teaches their Sunday morning small group and leads critique workshops at Oregon Christian Writers conferences, where she serves as the In-Person Critique Group Coordinator. Beth has six books currently available and is working on the next two—a divorce recovery book for women and a Bible study on Revelation. Beth has a heart for women; she has found new delight in leading retreats at she and Kelly’s vacation rental at Black Butte Ranch, and wherever else God might lead her. She blogs at Epiphany: http://www.bethvice.com/. Beth loves getting outside for hikes and gardening, but prefers snuggling inside with a good book or coffee with a friend, in nasty weather.