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Scattered Together…

Scattered Together blog image

Photo by João Ferrão on Unsplash

We are in crazy times right now where a lot of things don’t make sense. The onset and aftermath of the coronavirus has put the whole world off-kilter. We are all trying to make sense of what it means to quarantine, stay at home, what businesses are essential and what aren’t. I wish that hair salons and nail salons were considered essential! Lord have mercy on my roots!

One of the things I’ve been thinking about during this time is the usage of various words. Words that will most definitely be added to new versions of the dictionary. And some words that now clearly go together but are oxymorons.

Oxymorons are all around us:

  • Jumbo shrimp
  • Deafening silence
  • Invisible ink
  • Electric candles
  • Sweet sorrow
  • Accurate rumors
  • Alone together

But what about this new one that has descended upon our world ~ Scattered together.
How can people be scattered but be together at the same time? Let’s take a quick look at the definitions of these two words:

Scattered: distributed or occurring at widely spaced and usually irregular intervals
Together: into or in one gathering, company, mass, place, or body

I mean, “distributed widely” and “in one gathering” simply do not make sense when put together. They are complete opposites.

How can we be so widely spaced from one another but still experience the joy of gathering? One of those ways is to remember that we are ALL going through basically the same thing. We are all being told to shelter at home, stay safe at home, wear face masks, be as isolated as possible only going out for absolute necessities.

My heart goes out to the mom’s with little ones at home, they have little to zero time to themselves. The widow/widower who is riding this out alone in their homes. To the grandparents who live in assisted living and cannot leave their rooms or see their families. Weddings that are live-streamed and new babies being born without waiting rooms filled with well-wishers. Graduations are being postponed to unknown dates.

It’s. Just. All. So. Much!

But…

There. Is. Hope!

The Lord is with us and He is not surprised by any of this worldly chaos. He did not create this disease but no matter how hard it is to wrap our brains around, He is allowing it.

There are so many examples of the Lord scattering His people in the Bible, and it is ALWAYS for a purpose.

In Genesis 9:18-20 (AMP) we read about what happened after the Lord flooded the earth and what needed to happen to fill the earth once again,

“The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem and Ham and Japheth. Ham would become the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah, and from these [men] the whole earth was populated and scattered with inhabitants. And Noah began to farm and cultivate the ground and he planted a vineyard.”

Sometime later, the people of the land got together and thought they could create a tower that would enable them to reach God. Because the Lord knew this would eventually cause more problems than good, we see in Genesis 11:8-10 (AMP),

“So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the surface of the entire earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore the name of the city was Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the entire earth; and from that place the Lord scattered and dispersed them over the surface of all the earth.”

In the New Testament, we see how God worked through two guys arguing about what was best for the ministry of the Gospel. These were two apostles of Jesus named Paul and Barnabas were great friends and passionate missionaries for the Gospel. At one point, they argued about where to go next and who to bring with them. They both felt very strongly in their opinions.

Towards the end of the 15th chapter of Acts, we see that they did indeed end up going to minister in different areas. Paul and Silas went on a second journey to Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia; while Barnabas and John Mark sailed to Cyprus.

This disagreement was between two human beings who made choices. Satan thought he had won a small battle when they stopped ministering together. But we know that he absolutely did not! In the case of Paul and Barnabas, they and their new companions ended up reaching even MORE people with the saving grace of salvation. One strand of that ministry reached into Europe and eventually America.

God, in His wisdom, will always use what the enemy plans for our destruction, to ultimately be for our good and God’s glory.

In this time of being scattered together, the church buildings are empty and gatherings are indefinitely postponed. Yet, we are together through the genius of technology. Sunday morning services are being broadcast all over the world. People who’ve never stepped foot into a traditional church building, are hearing the Good News of the gospel in their homes. Students who had been enjoying weekly gatherings are still able to fellowship with their friends and leaders on their phones. Social media has ramped up encouraging messages of hope and grace.

The Lord is still in this. He is completely aware of our fears, worries, and anxieties. And He is here with us to weather the storm.

Psalm 91(AMP) is a beautiful chapter of biblical poetry that sings of the joy we can have in knowing our security lies in Jesus. The entire chapter is worth the read, but I’ll share this first verse:

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].”

There are several more verses in Psalms that are full of encouragement and this truth ~ Jesus is our stronghold and our true shelter. In all the places you feel scattered today, give all the pieces to the Lord and let Him hold them for you. Trust that He will put them back together. The pieces may look different when they are replaced, but they will be stronger and more secure in the hands of a gracious God.

Stay safe at home during this Covid-19 pandemic, shelter your heart in the shadow of the Lord, and look forward to the day when we can gather together in person and share community face to face!

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

In the Shadows

On a recent trip out of town with my husband, we took a bunch of photos…and of course posted them on social media!  In many of them, I was in the shadow of my tall husband because the sun was so bright.  I couldn’t open my eyes in the photos, and I don’t like taking photos with my sunglasses on.  I know, I know…big problems of life here!  One of my darling witty daughters commented on one photo saying, “So sad that you’ll always be in dad’s shadow.”  It actually made me laugh since I had CHOSEN to be in his shadow so I didn’t have to squint into the sunlight or leave my sunglasses on.  I wrote a reply saying, “I like to think of it as shelter from the heat!” And the next moment, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart, “In MY Shadow is exactly where you are supposed to be.”  Whoa!  I love it how God can even speak to my heart through social media!  LOL!!

I’ve been mulling over this whole idea between “in the shadows” and “in shelter of” for the past two days now.  And here I sit now chatting with you!

Shadow ~ “a dark figure or image cast on the ground or some surface by a body intercepting light; shade or comparative darkness; darkness especially that of coming after sunset; shelter; protection.”

Shelter ~ “something beneath, behind, or within which a person, animal, or thing is protected from storms, missiles, adverse conditions, etc.; refuge; protection from blame or incrimination; a dwelling place or home considered as a refuge from the elements; to be a shelter for; to place under cover; to protect; take under one’s protection; find a shelter.”

Psalm 91:1, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Isn’t that beautiful!  This verse in Psalms completely captures the unique quality of the beauty that combines being in the shadow AND being sheltered by the Lord ~ at the same time!

Take a quick look back at the dictionary definition of the word shelter.  Now think of this meaning in spiritual terms.  When we are sheltered beneath the wings of our Heavenly Father (Psalm 36:7*), we are able to sing with confidence!  He is able to protect us from the storms of life, from the missiles of discontent blasted off from the enemy, and from conditions in our life that are meant to distract or make us dissatisfied with the Lord.  When we make our home with the Lord, we can take refuge from the arrows of the enemy and trust that He will extinguish the deadly fires of dissatisfaction.

Notice as well what I’m pointing out here….the attacks from the enemy WILL COME!  They are inevitable simply because we are children of the Most High God.  We are reminded in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  And how do we maintain a sober and alert mind?  As we read scripture, we are sheltered by the Word of the Lord and all that comes into our mind from Him enables us to wage a victorious battle against the lies of Satan.  This verse maintains that the enemy is “like a roaring lion” ~ it doesn’t say that the enemy IS one…big difference there!  It also doesn’t say that we as Christians are like sitting ducks waiting to be picked off ~ we are moving targets that the enemy tries to pin down, but we are NOT to be passive!  NO my friend ~ we are to be ever-moving about our life, navigating the path that God has set us on, and be ready to press into the Lord when the battle wages.  And the battle will be tougher on some days than others.  There will be seasons of hand-to-hand combat, and seasons of less contention ~ but every day we should be ready for whatever comes our way.

Another reason to remember to put on the proper battle gear ~ the Armor of God!! (Ephesians 6). Oh, and here’s one of the most comforting pictures in scripture to me ~ I don’t have to worry about constantly looking behind me to see what’s coming.  I can use all my energy (mental, physical, and spiritual) to move forward knowing that I’m protected because God has my back!  Isaiah 52:12 says, “But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.”  YES!!!  My God and His angel armies are sheltering my life from all that I cannot see as I move in concert with what I can see and follow God’s leading in how to combat the enemy as he tries to throw me off course! I don’t know about you, but I gave myself chills here!

We have an endless supply of reminders in God’s Word of how the Lord protects, shelters, and shadows us.  But we have to be IN and involved in spending time in the scriptures to know this.

When the heat of battle is beating down on your head ~ hide in the cool shadow of the everlasting God.

Blessings,

René

Psalm 91 verse 1

{ photo taken on our trip as we drove through the Presidio in San Francisco }

 

All Bible verses found on http://www.biblegateway.com, NIV version
 * Further reference: Psalm 36:7, “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”