In the Shelter of the Most High
So many have voiced a readiness for 2021, an anticipation of the end of a horrible year. 2020 has been difficult. I've struggled and cried more this year than any other on record and those around me are wrought with pain and sadness too--but there is much about 'the year we all stayed home' that I will miss and hope continues into the new year.
So, as 2020 ends, I praise God for all the changes and blessings that came to us by way of difficulty. Psalm 91 has been a battle-cry passage of sorts this year. I've pondered these words over and over again in my heart, especially when I ache for "normal" or long for the difficulties of my life to cease:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
The poetry of the Psalms brings me such consolation. Words like shelter, fortress, "bear you up," deliver(ance), refuge, shield and buckler, dwelling place, salvation, etc.--these aren't just beautiful words or ideas, these are precious promises from our Almighty God!
Some folks project life will be different in 2021 or suspect that "when Covid goes away" all will be well. I am pretty sure not much is gonna change (i.e. the world and its culture is not going to get significantly better with the pandemic or president gone) and that we are called to much more than just surviving. Christian, we are called to believe and dwell in the shelter of the Most High! We are called to be joyful and to thrive. Filled to overflowing and still quite busy with kingdom work.
I pray the same for you, friend and family, that you too would remember the precious promises of God--he is still on his throne and has even purposed the pain, the financial ruin, the chaos, even the untimeliness of death to come to us so that we would perhaps turn to him and trust in his name. I know this is hard for us to hear sometimes, I get it, but either we are who we say we are or we are fools. We either believe in the sovereignty of a good God, and the resurrection of his Savior, or we are hopeless and most to be pitied. Our faith is in vain. Our gospel tells us the truth of our own sin and sorrow, the utter depravity of the world, and then enlivens us to rest in the hope of eternal peace in Christ. To him be the glory.
I love what Oswald Chambers said today (December 31st) in his "Utmost for His Highest" devotional:
As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, nor with the flight of impulsive thoughtlessness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ. Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.
And my grandfather, William S. Pollard, penned these words many years ago, before I knew him:
"The magnitude of hope." What is a heart to do with all the darkness? The darkness of sin both within and without? Of sickness and pain? Of death? Oh, dear friend, we will all spin and writhe in frustration and or in our suffering until we find our rest in something outside of ourselves. There is a deep well of hope found in no other name, but in the magnificent name of Jesus. He is the "Shelter of the Most High" God--He is the refuge that truly protects and provides, that truly saves. He is salvation from ourselves and from the world that is broken before us. He may not alleviate our circumstances or fix our pain, but let us not "think to highly of ourselves" and suppose we deserve anything different than his holy will. And he is near to the brokenhearted and those who are suffering. Just know that your suffering is not in vain. He is good and He is king!
This year was still quite full of schooling children, growing children, a precious Corona baby, and lots and lots of Zoom. We are starting a second homeschool term this week which continues to be a great blessing to us all. Greyson (11) is studying the Civil War along with the inventors of the period. He continues to bless us with a growing love and aptitude for piano. Despite Corona restrictions in our area, he played a good 4th season of baseball. He put a solid summer mowing Poppy's lawn and is growing in his work ethic. He was gifted a real wood-carving set for Christmas and looks forward to whittling gifts and things for others. We are proud of the young man he is becoming. Greyson says he will always remember the new way of connecting with friends and actually "enjoyed all those Zoom meetings." He also wants to learn the art of wood-carving this coming year and looks forward to starting his first project tomorrow (a spoon)!
Luke (43) has continued in his new work at an I.T. company, as a director of quality, which has included a little bit of travel despite Covid. He asks us daily to pray that he would be a blessing to his employers and that he would bring value to the company. I'm proud of him and his faithfulness in all circumstances. He models contentment for me, which is my thorn, and I'm always impressed with his (mostly 😝) cool spirit and faithfulness to keep at it all, "as unto the Lord." He has successfully managed his psoriatic arthritis this year with a Ketogenic diet, which has helped him lose about 40 lbs. He has more energy and less pain than this time last year. He has become quite the "Apple Grower" too--not that we have any fruit on our trees yet--but he bit the bug and is a full-on orchardist growing about 20 trees on our 2 acres here and tending to them as faithfully as to our babies. I gifted him a Newtown Pippin apple tree for Christmas--adding one more to the many and inspiring us all to "tend to our flocks" and pay "careful attention to the condition" of all things growing here (Proverbs 27). Luke's resolution is to "be under 200 lb and grow some apples."
church. I look forward to 'the year I turned 40' and all that that will bring in motherhood, marriage, daughterhood, and sisterhood. "I Need Thee Every Hour" still is an anthem and prayer-- oh, Lord stay nearby. As for resolutions, not that we make them, lol, but I want to take more time with girlfriends this year, my sister-friends from our beloved church, and I want to learn to play the piano.
It is with great gratitude to God I write to you this New Year's Eve. May God be glorified in our lives as we live quietly unto him. I pray God's peace and salvation for you--if you are restless perhaps you'd come to Jesus and find true peace and joy. If you know him, I pray you'd rest in your salvation, keep after the business of kingdom work (whatever that looks like for you) and trust him for the coming year.
Here's to 2021--the year we all embraced with fortitude and joy and contentment, holding tightly those people we hunkered down with in 2020. And maybe a little less Zoom.
Much love, friends.