Read Psalm 46. What stood out to you in this reading of the text?
While stepping out of the traffic and being still to focus on the blessing of shelter in the Lord is probably a good and needed practice for myself I can't help think about those in our community who have no physical shelter of their own let alone the time or energy to experience God's love in silence. I am reminded that the Elizabethtown Winter Shelter opens today. When I was more able-bodied, Fran and I volunteered there. We found it to be a most rewarding and humbling experience. I am in awe of those who continue to volunteer even throughout the pandemic. Whenever I came home from volunteering I was so much more grateful for the home we have. Many people in our church community have volunteered at the shelter in a variety of capacities, making and serving meals, helping overnight, checking people in, getting breakfast ready, etc. I think it would also be a great thing for our church to volunteer on a regular basis - maybe committing to staffing two nights per month including meals and volunteers. It is one thing for individuals to help but another thing for a church to take this on as mission, being a helping presence in our community with people in need where they are.
Psalm 46 begins, "God is our shelter and our refuge, a timely help in trouble; so we are not afraid when . . . " We can fill in the end of that sentence with anything. No matter what, God is there for us, offering security. The Message begins the verse with "God is a safe place to hide. . . . " How universally comforting these verses are!
I appreciate the authentic examples the devotional book offers to represent symbolic ways in which our world can be shaken, such as bad news concerning health or finances. Those instances make the earthquake verses a bit more "real-life" for me. But, God is still "our ever-present help, refuge, and strength." I need to remember to turn to Him so that I can tap into that strength.
Especially during this busy time of year, I find the emphasis on verse 10 to be wise. The booklet quotes the NRSV, "Be still and know that I am God!" It is so easy to forget that option when we are struggling with burdens. Even in secular articles, I've read of the wisdom of pausing for deep breaths to help center oneself. Add in the reminder of the power of the Almighty as our shelter, and that sounds to me like a recipe for peace of mind and heart. I like the way verse 10 is worded in The Message: "'Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything."
Here's to taking some time to "step out of the traffic" and focus on the blessing of shelter in the Lord!