I was sitting in the first 2 verses of Psalm 91 this week. That was where God had me, because everything else felt overwhelming. A lot of times my struggles feel like a battle. But this didn’t feel a battle. It felt like I was in a storm. And it felt like the storm came up fast and furious. Storms and battles are different, and require different reactions. Battles require more action, and storms require more stillness. As we approach battles, we put on armor. In storms, we seek shelter. In a battle, the armor is on us, in storms the shelter is over us. My time in Psalm 91 helped me understand how to endure through a storm.
Where is the safest place to be during a storm?
And as the week went on, and the strong seemed to come crashing in from different directions, I was comforted by Psalm 91. You may know the know the verses well. “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.””
Beautiful truths, but to help us understand it a little deeper, here are other words taken from the Hebrew translation… The one who sits, stays, inhabits, in the secret place, covering, safety of the Most High will rest, abide, lodge under the shade of the Most powerful God. The word “will” in the verse implies a truth and a certainty. There is no question about this. Only assurance. We will find shade, if we abide in Him, who is our refuge and strength.
My favorite translation of “rest” in the Hebrew translation is “pass the night”. This verse basically promises that night will end. But while its night, we can be safe and secure. It is as sure as the sunrise. But until it does, we can trust, have confidence in, be secure, and feel safe under God’s protection.
But when we are in need of shelter, do we immediately say “the One we trust is our refuge”?
The One. The Most High above all else, and set a part.
Storms pass. They do. But until they do, we can find shelter, safety, protection, under His shadow. We can be like Peter, until he got distracted. He knew the safest place to be wasn’t in the boat, it was closest to Jesus.
Let’s take a look…
Here were the disciples, just hours after the feeding of the 5000. Jesus had just performed this incredible miracle. Feeding a large crowd, with barely enough food to feed my own family.
You would think their faith would be at an all time high. However, Jesus made the disciples go ahead of Him in a boat, and He dismissed the crowd so He could be by Himself to pray. So maybe their fear was in part because Jesus wasn’t in the boat with them as the storm came up, as He had been the last time.
Not only is Jesus not with them as the boat was buffeted by the wind against it. But they became terrified when they think Jesus is a ghost. Seeing a ghost would terrify me, so I can understand the disciples fears. But I can further resonate witnessing God’s work, and then quickly finding myself in the middle of a storm, and scared.
As Jesus comes to them on the water… again doing the miraculous, they still wanted assurance that it was Him. “Call me out of the boat” says Peter. And Jesus does. Jesus called Peter to do the same thing He, Himself was doing. The impossible.
Jesus doesn’t call us to do the ordinary. Just like He doesn’t do the ordinary, even in a storm.
We will never know what it is like to actually walk on water, but when we step of our boat called “safety”, and into the “storm”, our walk with Christ can really feel like walking on water as the wind and the waves crash around us.
We can find the shelter and refuge that Psalm 91 speaks of. But I want to make mention of this… The shelter and refuge most likely didn’t stop Peter from getting soaked by the wind and the waves. Peter was still in the storm, so the shelter he found by being close to Jesus protected him from being overtaken by the storm.
Until Peter lost his focus…
Peter’s response to the wind and the waves showed that he had doubts about the One he was walking to. He got distracted from the greatness of Jesus, and begins to sink. I know what panic feels like. I felt a bit of panic this week, and surely Peter had to have felt it. Thankfully despite Peter’s brief moment of doubt, He calls out to Jesus, and we see the strength of the hand of Jesus.
Be still, and know that I am God.
This story teaches us that we will never sink if we keep our eyes locked on Jesus. His hand is strong enough to save. We can be confident He is with us, and will come to us in the middle of the storm. Yet as He is with us, He also is in control of it all. He grabs us the second we call out to Him.
When the storms come, and we need shelter, we can pass the night under His shelter and care. We can be still, so that we don’t get swept up in the winds and the wave. But if we find ourselves beginning to sink, we just need to call back out to Him, who will reach out, and bring us right back to walking on water, right next to Him.