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Grace Notes

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Asking for help doesn’t bother God

By Nancy Kennedy

For Christmas I gave my husband Psalm 91.
Not all of it, just the first two verses:
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest 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.”
I found an artist on the Etsy website who hand paints scripture verses, white lettering on rustic gray paper.
Earlier this year, during a particularly rough time in our lives, my husband and I went to see a pastor, and at the end of our meeting, the pastor gave us a prescription: Read Psalm 91 together daily.
Years ago, this same pastor told me to read and pray Psalm 91 for my daughters.
He likes Psalm 91.
It doesn’t have magical powers, but as my husband and I read it together it’s like a healing balm. We are resting in the shadow of the Almighty.
Whenever I start to fret and worry, which is often, all my husband has to say is, “Psalm 91,” his shorthand for “God is in control -- trust him,” and I fret less.
So, as we’ve been reading it together, its words have been getting into all the cracks and crevices of my being.
Fun fact: It was written by Moses. I don’t know when he wrote it or the circumstances prompting him to write it, but I’m glad he did.
He starts off reminding himself (and us) that God is a safe place, a refuge and a fortress, and that “surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and deadly pestilence” -- hidden traps and lethal hazards.
Moses describes how God will protect him from all kinds of deadly stuff, how people all around him will drop like flies while nothing bad will touch him.
If you’re like me, you might be saying, “Yeah, but bad stuff happens to God’s people all the time, so how can you say this?”
If I ever see Moses, I’ll ask him about that. Better still, I’ll add it to my list of things to ask God one day.
Moses emphasized making God your hiding place, the place you go for safety. Truly, much of this world is a dangerous place, and it’s not smart to walk around exposed and unaware.
Moses wrote, “Because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through your door” (v. 9-10).
Again, I have questions about this. However, I do know that if I make God my go-to place when temptation strikes, he keeps me from evil, including the evil that’s within me that wants to do wrong.
I’ve learned that whenever I think I can do life without God, that’s when I make a mess of things. Like Moses, I need God to protect me from the evil that seeks to destroy me.
One Bible version says in verse 14: “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life, says God, I’ll get you out of any trouble.”
However, sometimes even if we’re not holding on to God, he gets his people out of trouble anyway, which is awesome.
My favorite part of the psalm is where Moses writes about how God rescues his people -- how God rescues him. If you recall, Moses was the one who led God’s people out of Egypt to the Red Sea where it looked like he had two choices: sure death by drowning in the sea or sure death at the hands of the Egyptians who were chasing them.
Instead, God parted the waters of the sea and God’s people crossed on dry land, but the Egyptians drowned when the waters returned.
I especially love the part of the psalm where one version says, “Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party” (v. 14-15).
Some people think God is bothered by our cries for help, that he thinks we’re helpless morons who should be able to help ourselves.
Yes, we’re helpless and yes, we’re morons, but to God, asking for help isn’t bothering him. If it was a bother, why would he throw us a party?
The psalm ends with God saying, “With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation” (v. 16).
Being satisfied by God and satisfied with God -- that’s a good way to start a new year, don’t you think?

Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927  or via email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.