Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1
Daniel J. Habben
I wonder how many natural disasters will strike the world this summer. How many hurricanes will blow through our communities? How many earthquakes? How many floods and fires?
The approach of judgment day
In 2016, Canada suffered its costliest disaster when a forest fire sped through Fort McMurray, Alberta, forcing the evacuation of every one of its 88,000 residents. I was living four hours south of Fort McMurray at the time, and many fire evacuees took shelter in and around my community. News about the Fort McMurray fire was front and center for months. It seemed to be the first thing that anyone talked about. We all knew people who had been directly affected.
Every forest fire, every earthquake, every flood, and every tornado is a not-so-distant rumbling that signals the approach of judgment day. When that day comes, how many will “evacuate” successfully? Will you be among those who escape God’s righteous anger over sin? Surely, the coming of judgment day should be forefront in our minds, just as the news of a local forest fire would be.
But is it?
I find that the heat of mid-summer has a way of slowing me down. Projects and plans don’t seem quite as appealing as a little time on the porch with an ice-cold lemonade. Yes, summer often affords a break from the usual routine, an easing of the knot between your shoulders. But summer is not an excuse to let our guard down spiritually—to roll over on a Sunday morning and choose an hour of sleep over an hour in worship. The Word of God that is prepared for our consumption during summer worship and Bible class is no less important than during the rest of the year.
That’s because you and I need to be continually reminded that there is a firestorm coming. The flames of judgment day won’t surrender to all the water bombers in the world, any more than the flood of Noah’s day could have been held back as water burst from sky and earth.
The refuge of God’s shadow
So how can we escape God’s righteous anger over sin? The psalm verse above reminds us that when we continue to dwell in God’s shadow, we have nothing to fear. Those who stand in the shadow of the cross know that Jesus’ death protects them from eternal death and punishment. Time spent in Bible study and church is time spent in that sweet shade. As we find shelter in God’s shadow, we are also reminded that since Jesus has rescued us from the fiery consequence of our sin, his arm is not too short to sustain us in any other calamity that may upset our lives.
How can you encourage your family members and your fellow church members to keep standing in the shadow of the cross, even during the “lazy” summer months? Set the example by being regular in worship. Speak often about the truths you’re learning in Bible class. Encourage your fellow members to stand in the shadow of the cross as zealously as a mother directs her children to put on a hat and sunscreen before they head outside.
This summer will no doubt bring another round of natural disasters. Lives will be disrupted. But believers can take refuge beneath a promise that cannot be burned or drowned or broken: “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
Contributing editor Daniel Habben is pastor at St. John, Saint John, Antigua.
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Author: Daniel J. Habben
Volume 106, Number 7
Issue: July 2019
Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
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