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"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty" (Ps. 91:1).
Did you know there is a place in God, a secret place, for those who want to seek refuge? It is a literal place of physical safety and security that God tells us about in this psalm. Dwelling in the shelter of the Most High is the Old Testament's way of teaching faith. This gives us the most intense illustration of the very essence of personal relationship. Man has no innate, built-in shelter. Alone, he stands without shelter against the elements and must run to the ultimate shelter Himself. In verse 1, God is offering us more than protection; it is as if He rolls out the hospitality mat and personally invites us in.
That secret place is literal, but it is also conditional. In verse 1, God lists our part of the condition before He even mentions the promises included in His part. That's because our part has to come first. In order to abide in the shadow of the Almighty, we must choose to dwell in the shelter of the Most High.
The question is, "How do we dwell in the security and shelter of the Most High?" It is more than an intellectual experience. It is a dwelling place where we can be physically protected if we run to Him. You may completely believe that God is your refuge. You may give mental assent to it in your prayer time. You may teach Sunday school lessons on this concept of refuge. You may even get a warm feeling every time you think of it. But unless you do something about it—unless you actually get up and run to the shelter—you will never experience it.
You might call that place of refuge a "love walk." In fact, the secret place is, in reality, the intimacy and familiarity of the presence of God Himself. When our grandchildren, Cullen and Meritt, stay the night with us, the moment they finish breakfast, each runs to his own secret place to spend some time talking with God.
There are times when your secret place may have to exist in the midst of crisis circumstances with people all around you. A good example of that is a situation in which a U.S. Navy boy from Texas found himself.
He and his mother had decided to repeat Psalm 91 each day at a given time. He told of a time when his ship was under attack from the air and from an enemy submarine at the same time. All battle stations were in operation when the sub came within firing range and loosed a torpedo directly toward them. At that moment, the young man realized it was the exact time that his mother would be saying Psalm 91, so he began quoting the psalm just as the torpedo's wake appeared, heading directly toward their battleship. However, when it was just a short distance away, it suddenly swerved, passing the stern and disappearing. But before the men had time to rejoice, a second torpedo was already coming straight toward them. "Again," he said, "as the second torpedo got almost to its target, it suddenly seemed to go crazy, causing it to turn sharply and pass by the bow of the ship. And with that, the submarine disappeared without firing another shot."
The whole ship must have been "under the shadow of the Almighty" because it didn't receive as much as a scratch from either the submarine or the planes flying overhead.
Where is your secret place? You too need the security and shelter of a secret place with the Most High.
Peggy Joyce Ruth taught Bible study for thirty years at the Texas church where her husband served as senior pastor. Still actively involved in ministry, she teaches nationally and internationally at various denominational churches and organizations, as well as on a weekly radio broadcast. She is the author 10 books, including Psalm 91—from which this article is adapted.