Welcome to Welling, for your spiritual well-being and your ministry overflowing. I’m so glad that we are together. An important series, which comes from the depth of my heart to yours. From the richness of experience that has been entrusted to me while I am under treatment for the depth of the exploration of the Psalmist could not have otherwise be understood.
I remember on a subway station in Atlanta where a man with a shirt, I took his shirt’s picture. He did not know. It said God is like Coke. He’s the real thing. God is like Pan Am, the organization, the business does not exist anymore. He makes the going great, that was their slogan, Or God is like Dial soap, aren’t you glad you know him? Don’t you wish everybody did?
Sears. Remember that old department store? Says God is like Sears, no longer exists but he has everything. And then God is like Scotch tape. I really like that one. You can’t see him, but you know he is there.
I’d like to share a theology lesson before we delve into the enfolding. The enfolding has the enfolder on the front end and the enfolded in the middle. And then finally the enfolder and the enfolded at the end. We’re talking about God and you and me.
When we talk about God, theology and philosophy, they have a problem because God is so invisible. How do you talk about a God whom you have not seen? Or God is so incomprehensible, that’s not the same as being stupid or incoherent, but it’s beyond our ability to comprehend. Or my favorite, God is inexhaustible. Vast in every dimension of being and knowing.
So how can God become noble to human being? So in theology and philosophy, we talk about equivocal language. Which says God is so great and distant and different, you really cannot make sense. And some have taken what may be called that nihilistic view of God. He cannot make sense of God at all.
On the opposite end is called univocal language, where you can actually capture God as he is. And some have taken that sense of God talk and you cannot really do that either. God is greater than a human being.
And so philosophers of old and today talk about analogical language. When you talk about God, God can be talked about analogically. Because God has given human beings the capacity to personally know him, especially via the image of God that is in you. Except it’s been defaced. We have fallen. So it takes God’s revelation for us to speak about God correctly.
The Bible is God’s revelation to us, where God adjusted himself and accommodated us and our situation without ever, but in a way that we could understand and talk about him. So listen to the first two verses of the enfolder. Psalm 91 whoever dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”
There are four metaphors for God here. We call them majesty metaphors and military metaphors. Majesty metaphors, he is a shelter. That’s the first one. Just in front of her house a little tree. There’s a blue jay bird which has laid an egg and its young are just being hatched. As long as the youngest in the nest, the blue jay bird is in the nest looking after the young. The newborn has it shelter.
A second metaphor for God is God as shadow. What a beautiful capture of what he is. If you have studied shadows, the light is behind you and the biggest image in the shadow is what is thrown on the ground. If my whole image is shown on the ground, this little pen that I’m wearing, the image of the pen even though it’s real is not shown on the ground. The shadow, the bigger image, covers the shadow of the smaller image. That’s whom God is to us. The shadow. You’re real, but he covers you.
Then we have what may be called military metaphors. God is refuge. God is a sanctuary. You’re a refugee in God. Not long ago I was in Germany and Germany has a very welcoming policy to refugees as long as you learn the language and go through the school system, you’re welcome. Everything is taken care of, food and medical benefits and so on. They take refuge in this country in the same way we take refuge in him. He’s our sanctuary.
The second military metaphor is that he is our fortress. Not only our sanctuary, but a stronghold. He is our dwelling place, as a shelter and shadow. He’s our hiding place as our sanctuary and stronghold.
Some years ago we had the privilege of having the composer of a beautiful hymn which became a perennial song. The composer and his wife came to be with us at a RREACH special event. He had written a song called “You Are My Hiding Place” became very popular. Listen to how the words go.
“You are my hiding place. You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance. Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in you. I will trust in you. Let the weak say I’m strong in the strength of the Lord. You are my hiding place. You always fill my heart with songs. Songs of deliverance. Whenever I’m afraid, I will trust in you. Let the weak be strong in the strength of the Lord.”
When we were young in Chennai, India, then called Madras, a luminary of the Christian faith at that time Corrie Ten Boom came to our home. She was one who gave shelter to the Jews who were being persecuted and murdered and massacred in Germany. And she herself had to pay prison price.
Later on, there was a movie about her called The Hiding Place. If you go to her home in the Netherlands, Corrie ten Boom home is a piano where this song, You’re My Hiding Place, is open on the music stand. God is your shelter and your shadow. The enfolder. He’s your sanctuary and stronghold. Your refuge and your fortress. We rest in the sovereign Savior who enfolds us. He secures our well-being.