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The Shelter of the Most High

For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Psalms 27:5 ~ NLT

Many of us remember the first time we saw an ocean. I was almost 16 and my family had driven to Panama City Beach, Florida the weekend before school started. We drove a day, stayed two days, then drove back. It was vast and majestic and was my first inkling of how big God must be.

My first impression of Arches National Park, much later in life, was just as memorable. It was otherworldly, almost sacred, because it was so incredibly different than anything I'd ever seen. You're driving along through wide open, flat spaces where you can see for miles in all directions. (It's so flat that the speedway limit was 85, much to the delight of my husband!) Then, suddenly, these massive and intriguing rock formations rise out of nowhere. It's the kind of beauty that has to grow on you, especially if you're accustomed to a mostly green terrain like we are in the South. Still, you can't help but be awed by the magnitude of these natural structures and the God who created them.

We didn't plan a trip to Arches, or even Utah. In early October 2018, we were visiting one my dearest friends in Grand Junction, Colorado. She had a full teaching schedule one day of our trip so we searched the map and found that Arches wasn't too far away. After seeing so many gorgeous pictures on Instagram, it had risen high on my want-to-go-there list. So, we headed west for a day trip.

As we neared the park entrance, it began drizzling in the desert, quite a rare occurrence I was told. As we wound our way up the mountain, we were met with icy trails and frigid, windy temperatures. Driving through the park, structures vary between looking perfectly chiseled, intentionally placed, and haphazardly incomplete. Others look impossibly balanced. And they went on and on...the park is 119 square miles and more than 76,000 acres. These 2,000 sandstone structures are each unique and truly fascinating. (The last picture in the gallery was on the way down the mountain heading into Moab. The sun had come out and this unreal rectangle appeared in the sky! No Photoshopping or filter needed!)

The entire experience was visually overwhelming. It left me even more in awe of our great God. Not only did he design waterfalls and the Smokies, oceans and the Rockies, but also the desert and these indescribable pieces. The more I live and travel and the more of this grand and glorious earth I see that He created, the more insight I have into His creative spirit. His ways and thoughts -- and His designs of beauty -- are far higher than mine and more than my mind can comprehend. (Isaiah 55:9) The more I learn, the more I realize that there is to learn.

For the most part, the desert offers very few hiding places. What little I've been privileged to see across Arizona, Utah and Colorado is flat and vast, leaving one feeling exposed and vulnerable -- very much unprotected. It's easy to imagine our Native American ancestors and animals finding sanctuary among Arches hundreds of years ago within the enormous rocks. I can also imagine enemies and predators being afraid to enter the hallowed protection provided by their borders.

God's place of sanctuary and protection is even grander and more secure than any place we can imagine in the natural world. Let us dwell and rest in the shelter of the Most High, abiding in the shadow of the Almighty where we can proclaim with the Psalmist, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalms 91:1-2.) Please take a few moments and read all of Psalms 91. In fact, I'd encourage you to read and meditate on it every day.

Because you have made the LORD your dwelling — my refuge, the Most High — no evil will befall you, no plague will approach your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. Psalms 91:9-11 ~ BSB

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