Emergency Shelter, Vacation Cabin, or Dwelling Place?

On a recent Sabbath hike, I came across a passage that made me ask what kind of housing God was to me.  Yes, I said “housing.”  I know it sounds bizarre, but bear with me.

Psalm 91 includes an impressive list of encouraging promises made by God – deliverance from enemies, refuge under His wings (my favorite image), protection in battle, a long life with a responsive God.  And it all seems to be based on a decision highlighted in verse 9: “For you have made the Lord, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place…”  That phrase grabbed me, and forced me to ask an important question.

Have I done that?  Is God my dwelling place?

I wish I could quickly say yes.  But as I’ve thought about it since that Sabbath hike, I’ve realized that I too often relate to Him as something less than that.  Sometimes I view God as my emergency shelter, the place I go in a crisis when life is caving in on me, like the school gymnasium that shelters people during a flood or a fire.  It’s good that He is “a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1) – but Psalm 91 tells us that He ought to be more than that.

Other times, I treat God as if He were my vacation cabin, the place I go when I’m tired and need rest and refreshment.  He allows me to get away from the grind, to relax in green pastures, to stroll beside quiet waters (Psalm 23:2-3).  Again, not a bad thing by any means.  But still not enough.

Psalm 91 calls us to make God our dwelling place.  His presence is to be our home, the place around which our day revolves – not just hard days, and not just refreshing days, but EVERY day.  His omnipresence makes it possible for us to do that, and His love and grace make it attractive.  He puts out a welcome mat, and invites us to call Him our home.  What a wonderful and mind-boggling idea!

I wondered whether Sabbath-keeping would lead me to the trap of over-emphasis: since one day is more completely His, would I be tempted to make the rest of the week more distinctively mine?  But the opposite has happened.  The extended Sabbath moments give me the opportunity to establish Him as my dwelling place, to view Him as my home.  And I find I am now MORE  likely, not less, to spend time there the rest of the week.

And the best part is, I’m learning that when He is our dwelling place, He is also our emergency shelter and our vacation cabin.  When we focus on one, we receive all three!  Not a bad deal.

Don’t settle for less.  Make His presence your home.  Cross the welcome mat. Explore the rooms.  Don’t just visit once a week – LIVE there.

Why would we want to live anywhere else?


About Sabbath Thoughts

My name is Mike Gaston. I am a former missionary, a Shepherding Pastor at Heights Church in Prescott, AZ, a happy husband, a spoiled father of two daughters, a proud grandfather, and a recently-convinced pursuer of the benefits of intentional, regular, contemplative, Christ-centered rest. This blog will allow me to share thoughts about Sabbath, as well as thoughts about God and the Christian life that come out of my restful Sabbath moments.
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4 Responses to Emergency Shelter, Vacation Cabin, or Dwelling Place?

  1. Megan says:

    Great reminder!

  2. Mercy Crawford says:

    Thank you, keeping you in my prayers

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