A Sheltered Spot for You

Tree by a Stream

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.”

Isaiah 26:3

All we need to do in time of sorrow and loneliness is to stay our minds upon God, to trust Him, to rest in Him, to nestle in His love. We remember where John was found the night of the Lord’s last supper with His disciples, – the darkest night the world ever saw, in the deepest sorrow men ever knew, – he was leaning on Jesus’ breast. He crept into that holy shelter to find quiet.

John was kept in perfect peace during all those terrible hours. Everything appeared to have slipped away and there was nothing that seemed abiding. But John crept into the shelter of love and simply trusted, and was kept in holy peace.

A beautiful story is told of Rudyard Kipling during a serious illness a few years since. The trained nurse was sitting at his bedside on one of the anxious nights when the sick man’s condition was most critical. She was watching him intently and noticed that his lips began to move. She bent over him, and heard him whisper the words of the old familiar prayer of childhood, “Now I lay me down to sleep.” The nurse, realizing that her patient did not require her services, and that he was praying, said in apology for having intruded upon him, “I beg your pardon, Mr. Kipling; I thought you wanted something.” “I do,” faintly replied the sick man: “I want my heavenly Father. He only can care for me now.

In his great weakness there was nothing that human help could do, and he turned to God and crept into His bosom, seeking the blessing and the care which none but God can give. That is what we need to do in every time of trial, of sorrow, – when the gentlest human love can do nothing, – creep into our heavenly Father’s bosom, saying, “Now I lay me down to sleep.” That is the way to peace. Earth has no shelter in which it can be found, but in God the feeblest may find it.  —JR Miller

Staring Down Death

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“In the long run, we are all dead.”  —John Maynard Keynes

“Are you afraid to die? Remember that for a child of God, death is only a passing through to a wonderful new world…”  —Corrie Ten Boom

The idea of death is unpopular, unsettling and perhaps a little rude.  It is a great way of putting a good conversation into flight-stopping stall.  No one likes it (except maybe ‘Goths‘ and the perennial AC/DC fan).  It is perhaps ‘too true’ and the reality keeps us from dwelling on it.  But it is going to happen, you will die.

 “We live for seventy years or so (with luck we might make it to eighty), And what do we have to show for it? Trouble. Toil and trouble and a marker in the graveyard. Oh!  Teach us to live well!  Teach us to live wisely and well!”

Ps. 90:10, 12, MSG

Our modern society has made considerable effort to avoid the subject of death.  Thinking through this strikes me as unhealthy and confusing.  Through the past centuries, our present day attitude would be regarded as strange by them.

The Bible teaches us how to prepare to die well. 

We have been given several decades of life on this planet, but not much more than that.  The psalmist recognizes this.  He prepares for his/her personal appointment for death.  He prays that he will use wisely all the time he has left.  Psalm 90 has been part of that preparation for millions of Christians, for many centuries.

One way to help you purify a faith that is strong enough to look death straight in the eyes, is to have a few older Christian friends.  For me there is Pastor Ray.  He is in his 80s now.  I see myself marching behind him, and watching his back as he moves to heaven.  It helps me follow in some small way.  It gives me peace.  Maybe that is how it is supposed to work.

The Bible is a book that is to prepare us for death, and then eternity.  It is our compass as we look for ‘true north’.  It has instructions and guidance, if we listen to the voice, it will bring us through the ‘door of death’. Fear not, little flock.  It is God’s pleasure to give you the kingdom”.

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 “Lord, please get me ready to see you.  Teach me how to live wisely, and not as a foolish person.  Teach me to be a model of faith and strength to everyone who is watching me move toward death.  Give me courage and faith.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.” 

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It Was Love, Not Nails

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When Jesus walked the Via Dolorosa to His execution, it was an intensely intentional act. There was no fear in being crucified. He carried His cross like a well earned trophy. Jesus understood perfectly what was going to happen. He was going to die for His friends.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.”

John 10:11, NLT

It was love, and not nails that held Him on that cruel cross. He didn’t need to be fastened on it, His love for you and I would have held Him there. But nailed and splayed up before all, naked and alone, Jesus would “endure the shame.” And He would do this because we are His sheep. We belong to Him.

There is an immense amount of theology in all of this:

  • He was our substitution
  • He was our atonement
  • He was our redeemer.

I have hundreds of books full of information that tell me this. (They often just give me a headache.)

 “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”

John 12:32, NLT

The fear of death has nipped our heels. It is a formidable and persistent enemy. But as our Lord was dying Himself, He destroyed death, dismantling its entire apparatus. It has been said, “For the believing Christian, the grave is just a doorway into eternity.”

The deep confidence of Jesus, approaching a hideous death, can now be ours. In a sense we can “piggyback” our faith on His. We can die with an assurance that our life is now eternal. In a sense, it’s like getting on an elevator, the doors close and we move up (or down). The doors open and we’re in an entirely different place. The elevator has only done what it is supposed to do, nothing more.

Dear one, I implore you to understand what has been done for you. It is a mighty act of God to assemble all of this for us. “Be glad” (Ps. 32.)