Friday, September 5, 2008

Dwell Well

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

                        Psalm 91.1

Conspicuous Assumption

I’m a writer who lives with a journalist, so we share a love of words and ideas, but our work lives are markedly different. He goes to the newsroom, covers the day’s events, and comes home. I stumble into the study and hunker down for the duration. My day often lasts long after his is over. This can be a problem.

Once he’s back, I try (though not as often as I should) to spend a couple hours watching TV with him. Lately, he has a penchant for “guilty pleasures”—teen angst soaps like “Gossip Girl” and the new “90210”. I’m appalled at the wealthy, wasteful lifestyles they promote. These kids have crossed from conspicuous consumption to conspicuous assumption. Their abusive sense of entitlement is frightening. By the time I scramble back to the study, I’m so irate about what this says to young people, my partner’s glad I'm gone.

Where and How

As these shows (and the mortgage crisis) attest, we’ve confused where we live with how we live. Our homes have declined in value from family nests to status symbols. It’s less about their inner workings than external appearances. Be it ever so humble? Are you kidding me?  And if we’re not careful, this poisonous mentality can creep into our spiritual mindset as well. We can't allow what living in Christ looks like to others to override what’s happening with us.

I like to think of Psalms as the Believer’s Architectural Digest. It’s packed with vivid descriptions of where we live: God is our refuge (46.1); our hiding place (32.7); the rock that is higher than I (61.2); our dwelling place throughout all generations (90.1); our fortress and high tower (144.2). The thread here is security for us, not aesthetics for others. Then Psalm 91 connects the where and how. When we take shelter in God, we rest in His shadow.

Rest Easy

Merely residing in the presence of God brings peace and assurance. He knows everything, can handle anything, and loves without restraint. But, as the 91st goes on to explain, He’s also fiercely protective: “If you make the Most High your dwelling… then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”

Years ago, an atheist friend whom I loved and admired enormously said, “I can’t see why you abide all that malarkey.” I answered, “Harry, it may not look so hot from the street. But once you’re inside, it’s amazing.” Rest easy. Ignore what others think. Live in God. Be safe. Feel secure. Dwell well.

There's no safer, better place to live than in God's shelter, resting in His shadow.

(Tomorrow: Claiming Our Future)


Missy said...

Another excellent post. I love the Psalms. Not because they are God's word to us; because they are our words to God.

And then this:

"These kids have crossed from conspicuous consumption to conspicuous assumption. Their abusive sense of entitlement is frightening."

It is sad--not only are advertisers promoting (insisting as a patriotic duty!) that we buy, buy, buy, now we have television shows glorifying it as a lifestyle of entitlement.

I suppose TV has always lead us into a culture at odds with true values. I remember "Happy Days" being criticized for promoting a lack of respect for adults. That Joanie and her mouth! :) It seems so tame now by comparison.

Tim said...

Thanks, Missy. As always, your encouragement helps put the icing on the cake.

Re the TV thing: When I was kid, my parents pastored inner city churches, which demanded 24/7 attention to people in dire, often extreme need. Yet they were never too busy to watch what we were watching.

So, for example, we were good to go on Fridays from "The Brady Bunch" to "Room 222." But the minute they heard the "Love, American Style" theme song, the TV went off. If we didn't do it ourselves, they didn't ask us--they turned it off for us. Same went for "Laugh-In." And when we got caught trying to sneak a peek at "Dark Shadows" after it was forbidden, we came within a hair of the TV's being put on the alley!

Do parents know what their kids are watching, or do they just not care anymore? I would think the pressure all this consumer-driven stuff puts on their pocketbooks would get their attention, even if they didn't care about the morals (or lack thereof) it promotes.

Oh, and listen to me sound like an old fogey! I'll stop before I really embarrass myself. Besides, the kids down the hall have their music up too loud--I need to tell them to turn it down....

Mary Ellen said...

I just found this blog by way of Missy's Big Fish Stories and all I had to do is read this first post and I already know I love this blog! Wait...I'm Catholic, so I can still come here right? ;-)

Tim said...

Welcome, Mary Ellen! It's terrific having you here--even if you are Catholic (big grin). More than anything, it thrills me to know "Straight-Friendly" is indeed friendly to everyone, straight or gay, Catholic or Protestant, or none of the above.

Our God and His world are too big for labels. (They're not impressed by them, either.) And while a lot of what's here targets disenfranchised or returning gay believers, I pray you'll find a larger truth behind it that applies to all of us.

Keep coming, keep chiming in (it makes my day)--and encourage any and everyone you know who may find some benefit here to join you!

Be blessed,

Mary Ellen said...

Thanks Tim! You'll be seeing me around plenty...even if you are Pentecostal (big grin)...just don't tell the Pope (bigger grin). ;-)

I agree with you, the label thing is not important, it what's in the package that counts. I see you are a product of fine quality.

Have a great day!

Mary Ellen