“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1
Most of us generally fit into one of two categories. We’re either like Mary or Martha, the sisters who opened their home to Jesus in Luke 10.
Martha hurried around making preparations for the meal that day. Mary, instead, chose to sit at the feet of Jesus and bask in his teaching. Both loved the Lord but while Martha got in a dither over details, Mary intentionally lived in the moment with Jesus. Jesus said Mary chose what was better.
Betsie ten Boom. Do you know that name? If not, you likely know about her sister, Corrie.
Along with other members of their immediate family, the ten Boom sisters were sent to Ravensbruck, a German concentration camp that existed during WWII. They were Christians, but the Nazis sentenced them to the death camp for harboring Jews. Only Corrie survived the camp to later to speak and write of their experiences.
Both sisters were devoted to Christ, but Betsie displayed a special calm and love. She seemed at “rest” in Jesus. Consider this character analysis from Corrie’s memoir, “The Hiding Place.”
Although Betsie sometimes seems passive or retiring to Corrie, who is a natural leader, by the end of the novel she emerges as Corrie’s spiritual guide. Even within the bleak atmosphere of the concentration camp, Betsie is able to rally women of many denominations into clandestine prayer services and Bible study, which generates camaraderie and good will. Moreover, while Corrie often struggles with anger at their captors and doubt that their imprisonment is part of God’s plan, Betsie is able to forgive others seemingly without effort and even prays for the camp guards and the spy who turned their family in. Betsie died of malnutrition at Ravensbruck, but when Corrie sees her body she finds that her face seems restored to her previous youth and health. Corrie interprets this as a sign of Betsie’s moral rectitude and closeness to the divine. Much of the work Corrie did after the war promoting forgiveness and reconciliation is a continuation of the principles Betsie taught her by example in the concentration camp.
Mary and Betsie came to mind after I read Psalm 91:1 earlier this week. Those finding “rest” in God, first “live” in His presence.
To “live” means “to spend one’s life in a particular way.” It involves more than a Sunday visit or brief layover. To live means to “dwell with,” “stay with,” or to “set up residence.” It involves intentional presence. Living with Jesus releases us from the tyranny of a too busy existence. To live with Jesus empowers us to love as He loved, releases us from the stranglehold of self, envy, jealousy, pride, and the anxiety of what might happen tomorrow. To live with Jesus is to enjoy his rest.
The truth is many disciples of Jesus fall into “Martha mode” because we haven’t learned to dwell in Christ. We let the urgent crowd out the important. But, when we soak in the words of this Psalm, consider the sacrificial life of Christ, remember the choice Mary made to forget details in order to spend time at the feet of her Savior, and take note of the humble actions of people like Betsie ten Boom, we’re inspired to “live” in the “shelter of the Most HIgh.”
Mike Stroud -12/02/2020