So, where have you been dwelling? Did you take inventory of your thoughts this week? It is our thoughts that take us to the places we dwell.
Writing about dwelling, I was prompted to pay attention to the paths I allow my thoughts to travel — and the places where those thoughts take me. On the day I wrote this, some of the places my mind was dwelling included:
The violence and ugliness in our country’s streets. Anxiety about the future. Fretting about paying bills. Wondering about health issues. Lubec, and feeling sorry for myself that I’m “missing out on my dream.” Thinking critical thoughts—of both others and myself.
No, it wasn’t pretty. They were not happy or pleasant places of dwelling. And certainly not peaceful or joyful or uplifting. And I was in a gloomy state.
Yes, I had also spent time with my God. But as I examined the paths down which I’d let my thoughts run during the day, I realized that I had spent far more time dwelling in those other places than I had spent in the shadow of His wings.
In Colossians 1:6, Paul wrote that the Good News was bearing fruit everywhere, changing lives, “just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.”
For me, the most powerful way to find His shelter, to move in close under His wings and find His grace, is through the Good News in the Scriptures. There we find the truth about who He is, who we are to Him, His kindness and mercy, His plans, and the hope He gives. The longer I dwell in the Good News, the more I am changed.
The Scriptures give me God’s gentle responses to each of those gloomy places my thoughts had dwelled. His alternative dwelling places. Do some of the following statements seem impossibly, even foolishly, simplistic to you? My only reply is this: This is what our God says.
Worry about the future—I hold your days in my hands. I hold YOU in my hand. You’re very precious to me. Don’t worry. Don’t be afraid. I’ve got you. I’m here to help you.
Fretting about paying bills—I know what you need. I will supply all you need. I will take care of you.
Wondering about health issues—I am your strength and refuge; I work for good in every situation; even if you walk through the fire, I’ll be with you, you will not be destroyed.
The nation’s chaos—I know what’s going on. I am still the Almighty, your God. I have not changed. My plans have not changed. My kingdom of justice and peace is coming. And in the meantime, you, my daughter, are to be a channel of my light, my love, my grace in the world while you are there.
Feeling sorry for myself— (Oh! I’m ashamed that I have dwelt there. He delights in giving me everything He has—and I was feeling sorry for myself? Really, Elaine?) Remember who you are to me. Live in gratitude. That’s one of the “pleasing sacrifices” you can give Me. It will change your life, too.
Critical thoughts: You are my masterpiece, in whom I am doing a work. And, by the way, remember that I am also working in that other person you’ve been so critical of.
So there it was in front of me. The choice: On which side of the dash am I going to dwell?
As Colossians 1:6 says, God’s wonderful truth changes my life.
I wrote the above several weeks ago. During the intervening weeks, in these days when we see trouble every way we turn, one of the His truths that has opened up greater depths for me is Psalm 46:1. It’s one of those verses we know so well and have heard so repeatedly that we often don’t grasp the richness of it—until we live it.
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.
And Nahum 1:7 adds this: He is close to those who trust him.