when you can’t get hidden enough

I don’t like people to see me when I’m out of sorts. I’d rather present a finished puzzle than dump jumbled pieces at someone’s feet, I guess.

But nobody is a finished puzzle and today I feel especially unfinished – especially jumbled and incomplete.

I don’t know what to blame, but I know there is a remedy. There are so many could-be culprits, but that’s a cop out and my heart knows it. Before I pull the covers over my head too early on a Friday night, I’m going to consult the shadows.

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.” (Psalm 91:1-2, ESV)

The words forming in my mouth hours ago were not praises or prayers because the tip of my tongue was too full of fears. I had shuffled my way out into the open, out from under the steady shelter and into the battlefield, unprotected.

It isn’t the city, though I would like to say it is. It isn’t the bare walls in my apartment or all the things I wish I made more time to accomplish. It isn’t the rumble of disappointment in my belly when I am not passionate about everything I am doing. It isn’t the bigger, nagging questions about living eternally significant days when I am anonymous. It isn’t any of those things, though they are the jumbled puzzle pieces I’ve got cluttered at my feet at the moment.

God is calling me and all my jumbled puzzle pieces under His shelter, inviting me to abide in His shadow tonight.

Any kind of shadow is exactly where I wanted to hide right around 4 pm. I started thinking about dark chocolate just after lunch and reached for jolly rancher fruit chews at 2:15 hoping they would tide me over (sidenote: never substitute anything for chocolate). I snapped at two of my favorite students and caught myself several times just staring at piles of papers on my desk.

I left work early in search of a shadow, any kind would do – something I could get behind or under – something I could disappear into would have been ideal.

I settled for some cheap chocolate at the subway station, a run in Prospect Park, some red wine, switched to holiday tea, then curled up for a doze and more red wine, but I couldn’t get hidden enough. I couldn’t find the right kind of shadow that would give the right kind of escape.

Then, this.

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.” (Psalm 91:1-2, ESV)

He who dwells… will abide.

If I dwell in the shelter of the Most High, then I will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I love that the fulfillment of this promise is wrapped in our obedience, though it does not depend on it.

God will always be shelter, but we must choose to stand underneath.

When we dwell in His shelter, we will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. His shadow is not one of escape, but one of refuge. I imagine the Almighty casts the best and friendliest shadow, like standing behind Sully from Monsters, Inc. – a shadow you are not afraid of because it means there is a friendly giant standing nearby who is strong enough to protect and preserve you.

What does my heart say when I run underneath His shelter, to claim the promise of His faithfulness? I suppose it says something like, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” And then quickly prays for more belief that these words are true.

Some nights (most nights… well, all nights), any kind of shadow will not do. My heart is searching to stand in the shadow of something more powerful than my petty cravings or fears or self-absorbed complaints. His is the shadow I want to get inside, so I might be found holding fast to Him in love.

“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.” (Psalm 91:14-16, ESV)

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