My mom was hit by many storms in her life. I cannot know for certain, but I imagine that one of the first things that blew in and unsettled life for her as a youngster was the realization that her family was not always in the favor of a frowning church. As she journeyed through the decades, storms rose, tossed her in turmoil and pain, and subsided. Some were more devastating than others. The last was a terminal lung disease; the suffering it brought was mercifully cut short when she died of a stroke. In the years between childhood and heaven, there were many times Mom needed a refuge and shelter.
Though the specifics might differ, that’s the story of most of our lives.
Months after Mom left the earthly realm, I found a small note on a crowded bulletin board in her kitchen. In her distinctive handwriting, the verse she had copied spoke to me:
One thing I ask of the LORD, this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
Mom knew something that I was only then discovering. She knew where she wanted to live.
Where have you been dwelling this past week?
1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.
Those who LIVE in the shelter of the Most High… other translations use the word dwell. I like to use dwell in this Psalm 91 promise. Dwelling is living in a place. Living. Not just passing through. Not just giving God a few brief thoughts as we race by. But dwelling.
Say the word aloud, slowly. It even has a deep sound, doesn’t it? It’s solid. Strong. It’s not a transient thing. It’s has roots that stretch into something dependable and unshakeable.
It withstands storms.
I don’t know at what point in life Mom discovered the one place she wanted to dwell, but she had found her shelter.
Jesus said life would be hard and we’d have trouble in this life. He doesn’t promise to block all the storms headed our way or to downgrade hurricanes to gentle breezes. He does promise, though, to see us through everything — storm, earthquake, fire, flood. Everything.
How do we live/dwell in His shelter? Now, as many storms are moving into our lives, we need to know this.
Let’s begin with our thoughts, because it is our thoughts that determine who we are and where we are going. Our thoughts determine where we dwell.
Think about what it means to dwell on something.
When we dwell, our minds are constantly there, always going back to that thought or image. You know what it’s like to dwell on a thing: You have had times when you’ve dwelled on that one thing you long for but cannot have—and the longing eats holes in your contentment. Or you dwell on worries about the future, or you dwell on wrongs someone has done to you, or you dwell on regrets of the past, or you dwell all day on a Facebook “confrontation.” You can’t leave it, put it down, or let it go. It’s always there, in your head. You’re dwelling.
And you’re also becoming. The thing you’re dwelling on is not only in your head, it’s soaking into your feelings and even your behavior. You’re becoming discontented and envious, or unforgiving and angry, or fearful and anxious, or self-condemning and a slave to guilt.
We could even say that what you are dwelling on is dwelling in you.
As you dwell in those thoughts—and let them dwell in you—you are taken down certain paths. You know how that goes. We all know too well how dwelling on that one thing for too long has taken us to places we don’t want to be, made us into people we don’t want to be.
For this week, take inventory of the places your mind dwells. I did this for one day, and the list was a bit appalling. I’ll share with you next week.
This week, think about what you’re thinking about, and the time you spend there.
And tell your heavenly Father you want to dwell in His house.