Sometimes I feel my life is like a broken record. For those of you who don’t remember these, I’m referring to a vinyl record. Often times the record would be damaged and when the audio needle reached that damaged section it would skip backwards and just keep repeating that section over and over again until you reached over and forced the needle forward (probably doing more damage to the vinyl). So a broken record implies repeating the same event or the same mistake over and over again until, hopefully, you learn to jump ahead. I wonder what phrase future generations will use to communicate this reality. You can’t really say, “My life is like a broken smartphone.” It just doesn’t have the same ring.
So after that little jaunt down memory lane, you’re probably wondering what part of my life is like a broken record, simple – learning how to rest, not only learning but maintaining the practice of spiritually rest in the Lord. I was brought to this realization recently when I read the first verse of Psalm 91.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. (NIV)
So there it is– “rest.” Here is a promised path to find the spiritual, emotional, even physical rest that most of us want and need. “Rest” evokes such a powerful image of security, of peace, of simply lying down knowing that life will be ok free from worry, anxiety and fear. We all need rest, but few of us know how to do it well. Life beats us up and we need a place to retreat and refresh. Where do we turn? The genius of this verse is that it gives us the key to finding true, lasting rest, “he who dwells in the shelter of the Most High…”
There are two very important principles involved here associated with the words “dwell” and “shelter.” We hear a lot about dwelling, but what does that mean. I think of dwelling as “hanging out” or “living in.” When we dwell somewhere we make that our home, the base of operations, the place we call our own. So dwelling means we have to stay put and not go wandering around. It’s easy to be distracted by all the ways the world tells us to live, to find meaning or success. We chase motivational speakers to get the latest program or principles. Just go to any bookstore’s self-help section and you are flooded with newest “secret” plan. Instead we would do better by just staying put, but staying put in a specific, God-ordained location – His shelter.
Here’s the idea. God has created a place – a spiritual place, where we find protection and provision. He has promised to take care of our physical needs – food, clothing shelter. So we don’t need to worry about those things. He has promised to love us, to show us that He does, indeed, love us. He promised that He has a plan for us and we have value to Him. We matter to Him. We’re important to Him. He has promised to guide us, to give us wisdom when we need it, to find joy, to overcome life’s trials, to answer our prayers. All of the deepest needs that we humans long to fill are found in this shelter. There is no lack. So when we dwell there we can be confident that He is there and we can relax, we can unwind, we can settle down in peace. The security of being taken care of is what allows us to rest.
Dwelling in His shelter means we stay put there to restore our perspective on what is really important. Dwelling in His shelter takes a deliberate decision to trust that God is trustworthy and will do what He promised. Dwelling in His shelter means letting go of our own plans and schemes and trusting that He’s got us covered. Dwelling in His shelter means making a deliberate decision to give Him thanks for who He is in our lives and what He has done. Dwelling in His shelter means turning to Him again and again and again, as often as necessary, instead of turning to the world to fulfill our needs. Dwelling in the shelter of the Most High means we find rest.
Here is where my broken record life comes in. Even though what I said above is true and I know it. I forget it all too often. Life throws me a curve ball and I start running around like a mad man trying to deal with it. I start to worry and stress, but then the Lord gently reminds me to come back to His Resting House. I breathe a great sigh of relief, I feel like I’ve come home again and my soul finds rest – again, just like I knew it before. So my goal is to dwell in His Resting House for longer and longer stretches of time until I make it my permanent residence.