by Emily Conrad
You can always tell where a kid’s loyalty lies by who she runs to when she gets hurt. A child may say she loves her teacher or her friends, but if she falls and skins her knee and her mother is there, she’s going to run to her mom.
The same goes for us as adults. If we find ourselves running to any one or thing other than Jesus when we need comfort, it’s time for a heart check.
That’s a paraphrase of something I heard a teacher and mother say at church weeks ago, but it’s stuck with me.
Today, I spent some time in Psalm 91, and God repeated a similar challenge to me.
As for you, the one who lives in the shelter of the sovereign One,
and resides in the protective shadow of the mighty king –
I say this about the Lord, my shelter and my stronghold,
my God in whom I trust –
he will certainly rescue you
Psalm 91:1-3a, NET
Or, as the King James puts it,
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Calling God a “shelter” conjures the image in my mind of running to Him when I get in trouble, like the little girl with the skinned knee. And I still like that analogy.
But the Bible talks about living and residing with God. Abiding and dwelling with Him. To stay. To make my home with Him so He could spare me the trouble of running out and skinning my knee in the first place.
And spending this time with God this morning was abiding with Him. It was a good start, but we all know spending a few minutes somewhere in the morning is not the same as residing there.
The day wore on. I began to feel the effects of my poor night of sleep. I worked on writing projects I wasn’t confident I was getting right. I worked on another project I’m fairly confident I’m getting wrong (training my dog to walk nicely on a leash, if you must know). My mood plummeted. I worried. I started wandering the kitchen for sugary snacks. I talked to my husband. I tried taking a nap. Anything to salvage my mood and the rest of my day.
Basically, I had left my shelter and skinned my knee. Worse, instead of running back to my Father, I went looking for comfort other places.
The worry, the sugar cravings, the fatigue were all signs I had packed my bags and hit the open road instead of choosing to continue abiding with Jesus.
At any one of those signs, I had options.
Facing similar signs yourself, you have the same choices: look in vain for comfort elsewhere or abide with Jesus.
Instead of snacking in hopes that a full stomach will satisfy a hungry soul, abiding with Jesus means turning to the Bread of Life and the Living Water for fulfillment.
Instead of worrying or overthinking problems to find answers, abiding with Jesus means turning to faith.
Instead of allowing insecurity to steal God-given purpose and passion, abiding with Jesus means believing what the Bible says about us and our standing and purpose with God.
Instead of working extra-hard without His direction, abiding with Jesus means resting when He gives that invitation.
Instead of talking to others and avoiding prayer, abiding with Jesus means lifting problems and praises in prayer. Alone and with others.
Instead of sleeping or avoiding challenges, abiding with Jesus means persevering when He’s called for work or wakeful waiting.
I have tried all those “instead of” phrases at one time or another, this last one, trying to sleep when I had work to do, just today.
Trying being the operative word. I never fell asleep. My effort at finding comfort had once again failed, and still I didn’t get it. I turned to one more “instead of” for comfort: social media.
Thankfully, despite me choosing “instead of” over abiding with Him, God didn’t leave me to my own devices. My feed was crammed with Bible verses. I read just one and felt it already: my soul moving back home, abiding again in the love the God who’d pursued me even though I’d run off and scraped my knee.
Is your knee pretty scraped up right now? Or maybe it’s worse than that. Something may be broken or out of joint. Still, God’s door is open to you. He’s got a shelter waiting that you can call home, where you’ll be safe, where you’ll find comfort in the only One who satisfies.
I suspect He supplies different furnishings for each of our shelters. Each contains a Bible. Mine is stocked with blank notebooks, inviting written thought and prayer, which is generally when I find myself most focused on Him. In the corner is a safe where I am to lock away things I would worry about. There’s a comfortable chair to rest in as I memorize passages of Scripture so I can repeat them to myself to ward off wrong thinking. There are divots on the edge of the bed, where my husband and I sit to pray together.
It is by writing, doing what must be done and letting it go, by incorporating Scripture in my life, and by prayer that I abide with Jesus.
In what practical ways do you abide with Jesus throughout the day?
Such a convicting post, Emily. You really hit uncomfortably close to home today! But that's a good thing. Perhaps you're God's prodding to me, to nudge me to run to Him and abide in Him instead of the other things I've been turning to that never fulfill or comfort as I hope. Thank you for sharing your heart and convicting mine today.
I'm right there with you, in that "uncomfortably close" place. I'm grateful that God loves us too much to stop nudging us back to abiding with Him, where we'll find true comfort!