Living Under the Shelter

“Whoever lives under the shelter of the Most High

will remain in the shadow of the Almighty.”   

Psalm 91:1

David, the shepherd boy who would become King, knew the dangers of living without shelter.  When shepherds take their flocks to the places where there is good pasture, it is normally a long trip, and sheep are not easy to move from one place to another. They are fearful animals, and almost any unexpected movement can send them into a panic…running for escape, even if it’s over the edge of a cliff.  They have no natural means of defense, except to run, often running into greater danger.

Pasture lands offer rare shelter for the sheep.  The shepherd himself must be their safe place.  The sheep need to see their shepherd, or they become skittish…nervous.  The sight of their shepherd brings a sense of calm and reassurance to the flock.  His presence is their shelter.

As “human sheep” we walk this earth, vulnerable and naturally defenseless to its dangers and evil.   Every human longs for shelter.  No matter how much we may try to create a safe place for ourselves, we cannot control every circumstance that comes our way.

To “live under the shelter” of the Most High, we must choose to enter there.  He will not force us into His Shelter. . . it must be our choice.  Coming and going in and out of His Shelter is not “living under His Shelter.”  To livethere is a choice on our part.  He opens the door and invites us in.  He allows us to choose.

Once I choose to live under His Shelter, I immediately experience being in His Shadow.  His Shadow is an extension of Himself. It is the evidence that He is there. He is present.  His Shadow cannot be where He is not.  His Shadow is proof that He Is right there….and very near.

The Most High has made Himself available to us.  But He will not force us to live under His Shelter.  Our Shelter is our safe place, our protection, the place where evil will never be invited and harm is kept at bay.  Stepping into His Shadow brings immediate relief from the “heat” of our day…the heat that could be deadly.  God places Himself between us and the blazing heat of life.  He provides His Own Shadow for our protection . . . our relief.

May we step into His Shelter with deep gratitude for His loving invitation.  And may we remain close to Him, within His very Shadow, where we find rest from the heat of this life, with full confidence in our Almighty One who has invited us to be so near to Him.



Different Worlds

Different Worlds is a blog post from Janet Lenz from Desertsprings blog

“I will give thanks to You

as I learn Your regulations,

which are based on your righteousness.

I will obey your laws.

Never abandon me.”

Psalm 119:7-8

If you’ve ever spent time in a foreign country, you know how much goes on in normal life there that seems strange.  You’ve stepped into “their world” and it may take a while for you to even realize how different that world is.  For example, you may rent a car from the airport in London, but you quickly notice that the steering wheel is on the “wrong side” of the car, and everyone there is driving on the “wrong side” of the road. Unless you make a very quick course adjustment, you’ll soon find yourself on the “wrong side” of the law. But it’s their world,and YOU are the one who needs to make the course adjustments.

God’s Kingdom is completely different from our world on this earth.  But it’s HIS World, and guess who needs to make the course adjustments when you enter into it!!

The first few years that I stepped into the desert world of the Saharawi, I was not thinking about how their world operated.  I was operating in my world.  I couldn’t understand why they did the things they did, especially because I thought myworld, myways were better.  I would usually end up standing before some leader there in tears, because nothing had worked out the way I had planned.

Guess who needed to adjust the plans???   I had come with all the details worked out of how this would go. It was a GREAT plan!   But it was as if, in showing my plan to God,  He patiently looked it over, then kindly crumpled it up and tossed it over His shoulder.  With a wink and a smile, He took my hand and proceeded to walk me through the Plan He was already unfolding.

I not only had to look to Him for His Plans, but I had to become a “learner” of the Saharawi’s world….how they did things….what they valued….how their world worked.  And after many years of frustration, I began to discover the wisdom and realities of their world.  Life became much less stressful and much more fruitful.

God’s regulations are perfect.  Period. He put it – and us – together in the first place.  He knows how it – and we – best work out on this globe and in His World.  To run around in this life, doing what we think is best . . . what we want life to be, how we want things to go, will most likely not go well.  As we live in His Kingdom, we must be willing to learn. Life in His Kingdom is SO different from the kingdoms of this world.  We don’t know how to do it. We need to posture ourselves as “learners” of His Kingdom.  His ways, His Laws, His regulations will be absolutely perfect, as He is Perfect.  And as He kindly gives us understanding, insight, patience, and countless “2nd,3rd,4th, gazilian” chances, we begin to understand the incomparable benefit of following His Ways.

Notice how this verse ends. . .  a plea for what matters most:  “Never abandon me.”   There is no comparison of this world to His Kingdom.  He promised to never leave us….never abandon us.  Stop fighting what He has set up for our good.  Hold tightly to His Hand, as He holds to ours, and trust Him as He shows us, step by step, how His Kingdom works….the Kingdom into which He has invited us.

What Are You Looking At?

“But the Lord told Samuel,

“Don’t look at his appearance or how tall he is,

because I have rejected him [David’s oldest brother].

God does not see as humans see.

Humans look at outward appearances,

but the Lord looks into the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

Samuel was God’s Prophet, and his assignment was to find the next King for God’s nation.  The “old” King was on a downward spiral and had to be replaced.  It was Samuel’s job to find the man God had chosen to be the new King.  But Samuel was looking for someone that fit his formula for a good king.

God already had made His choice, but it was not anyone that “fit” the qualifications for which Samuel was looking.

God’s choice was not a strong, wise, well-educated, experienced nor powerful man.  This was not a successful, famous leader.  He was not someone who had a proven track-record in business or economics or corporate success.  He was the “little brother.”  His renown only went as far as his dad, his brothers, and a bunch of sheep.

He was just a kid. His name was David.

Outwardly, there was no logical reason to consider that God would choose to use The Kid.  But God had been watching him before he was even born….the baby of the family.  He was watching as little David often got the “short end of the stick” in his family.  God saw how often David was left behind as his big brothers went off to do more “special things”….big-boy things, while David had to take care of a bunch of sheep.  Not an easy job.  They were not easy animals to care for…very low on the intelligence charts, easy targets for lions and bears, and pretty much anything else that had teeth. David’s focus each day was basically saving their lives….making sure they’re not eating deadly plants or falling off cliffs.  It was hard work, and very lonely.

But what God saw most in this young boy was his heart.  He was learning to know God through the challenges of his years of caring for those sheep:  God’s Nature, His Goodness,  His Mercy,

His Protection, His Presence, His Loving-kindness, and His Power. He could never have imagined what God had planned for his future. . . as one of the greatest Kings in history.

May we learn to see each other with even a glimpse of how God sees us . . . even the “most unlikely.”

Water Song

“Spring up, O well!

Sing about it.”

Numbers 21:17

God’s people had been going through a horrible time!  Slaves  of Egypt for hundreds of years,  running through the desert andthe Red Sea from Pharoah’s army, with the wall of the sea looming all along their panicked flight. . . then into another desert.   They had been bitten by snakes, struck with plague, learning how to follow leaders who didn’t know where they were going.  Frustration, hunger, running for their lives with children, animals, elderly, and sick people was their new way of life. They’d seen people swallowed up by the earth, being led through the days by a cloud…and the most awesome “nightlight” of fire. And it all took place through an impossible desert. No convenient natural water sources.  Always on the move, sleeping in temporary shelters, days..weeks…months….eventually 40 years. Including the hundreds of years as slaves in Egypt (desert!), this has to be the most horrendous refugee situation in history.

But all the while, God continued to be with them, tolerating their disobedience, bad attitudes, and complaints. They’d lost a lot of ground in Egypt personally, spiritually and culturally.  Yet He always gave them another chance, usually through miracles He orchestrated. They’d learned so much about Who God Is through that journey.  They were still His people.

Now they were on the move again.  God had allowed poisonous snakes to bite His complaining people.  But He also provided a remedy:  Moses’ bronze snake on a pole.  They only had to look at it to live.

Still in the desert, they arrived at a well.  God told Moses, “Gather the people, andI will give them water.” (Num.21:16-18)

Then God’s people sang this song,

“Make your water spring up!

Sing to the well,

The well dug by princes

Dug out by the nobles of the people

With their scepters and staffs.”

Did those past Princes, using their scepters, know that they were digging a well for God’s refugee People?   Did those Nobles of the past, using their shepherd’s staffs, realize that they were digging a well that would be used by God to bless His people, led by a Shepherd who had been trained to be a Pharoah?  Did God’s people know that He had prepared it long ago to keep them alive at that moment in time?

God knew exactly what was coming in the future.  He knew that His beloved people would pass through that desert place some day in desperate need of water.  He had provided long before their need passed that way.

We do not know what will come tomorrow in our lives.  Perhaps we would not even want to know.  We do not know how things we do today will affect our tomorrow…or the tomorrows of others.  But God knows. . . exactly.  And His Plans of how He will use those human efforts for His Purposes are already reality in His Mind.  Nothing escapes Him.

We can trust in the Truth that He can use anything for our good.  It’s our job to hold tightly to His Hand as He continues to bring into existence the proof of His unfailing Love and Purposes for us.

Unlikely people . . . unlikely circumstances . . . unimagined tragedy may invade our lives.  Yet, whether we truly believe it or not, He’s got this!     And we can join that ancient song of Hope and Truth:   “Spring up, O Well!”   Spring up in me.



Whispers a blog post written by Janet Lenz

 “Who is this that comes up from the wilderness,

leaning upon her Beloved?”

Song of Solomon 8:5.

I miss him.  I miss the Love of my Life.  I had never imagined any stage of my life without him.  There are SO many sweet, beautiful, loving and lovely memories that appear and swirl through my heart and mind.  Unexpected flashes of moments that I had forgotten, yet carrying the emotion and images of a memory.

He was my biggest cheerleader through the years, encouraging and cheering me on as I would step onto new ground, new life experiences, and new ventures.

Nearly crippled by fear the first time I headed to the Great Desert, my literal wilderness, I was panicking and trying to convince myself (and him) that this was only a test by God to see how far I’d go in facing my fears.  He calmly spoke words of truth to my frantic heart. I went….with his love and blessing.

I miss him.

And I was telling God how much I miss him.  Tears came.   Standing in my little kitchen, with a papertowel catching the tears, my heart whispered, “I miss being held.”

Within a heartbeat, I sensed God’s Presence so very near, and heard His gentle Whisper,  “I Am holding you.  I Am here.”

The Whisper continues . . .

God’s Prep School | Registration Open

 “Elijah left and did what the Lord’s Word had told him.

 He went to live by the Cherith River,

which is east of the Jordan River.

Ravens brought him bread and meat

in the morning and in the evening.

And he drank from the stream.

But after some time the stream dried up because no rain had fallen in the land.”

1 Kings 17:5-7

It’s no fun being a Prophet.  It’s tough being the “bearer of bad news” from God to people…often to powerful leaders.  Elijah was cutting edge …the first in a long line of important prophets God would send to Israel and Judah.   Elijah had no guide book to follow.  And the messages God told him to tell wicked rulers were Bad News.

No wonder he gave his messages and then left. Quickly.  Very quickly.

This time, he had bad news for King Ahab. There would be no rain or even dew for the next few years.  Ahab’s “god Baal” was the “god” who brought the rains and good harvests.  So Elijah delivered the news….and ran.   (He seemed to do a lot of running…)   Ahab was left with a situation of water in his kingdom drying up, in the face of his “god of rain.”

God led Elijah to a river where he could rest and be peacefully alone.  (Prophets seem to be very comfortable with “alone.”)  God sent ravens (considered “unclean” birds for God’s people) to bring bread and meat to Elijah.  The “dirty” ravens that he would have found “unclean” and very distasteful in normal circumstances, brought him bread and meat each day….a most unlikely delivery service that God used to take care of His chosen prophet.

But day after day, the stream began to run more slowly, and shrink from its banks.  It went from a clear running stream to a narrow trickle.  Grasses began to wither…turn brown.  It was more and more difficult to catch the water to drink.  It must have felt like each day brought him nearer to his death.   He had delivered the message of no rain or harvests as God had directed, but had God really meant that he would suffer as well?   Wouldn’t he have been excused?

Try to imagine the mental and emotional battle growing in Elijah as he sat each day, alone, watching his life dry up. What would you be thinking?  How well do you wait?  To what do you run when life gets tough…when there’s nothing you can do to change your circumstances?  When you feel that life is slipping away, and you cannot stop it?   When you begin wondering, ‘Where is God?   I thought I was doing what He’d told me to do!”

Elijah’s life was at risk on two fronts:  a murdurous king chasing him, and the bare necessities of life disappearing.  What God had said would happen, was happening.  Elijah simply hadn’t expected it would happen to him.

Yet, just at the right time, God spoke, telling him to go to a village outside of God’s peoples’ land (hostile territory.) He told Elijah exactly who he would meet (a widow) and that God had instructed her to feed him.  (She had no food.)

The story is one that only God could come up with, using most unlikely people struggling in impossible circumstances. Nothing humanly logical.  The ingredients of miracles.

But there was something that was coming “just around the corner” that God needed to prepare His Prophet to face. . . a certain Ultimate Showdown on a certain mountaintop.  Elijah would need every ounce of faith for what was ahead.  God’s “School of Faith” beside that stream, with the dirty birds, and the widow/son living in extreme poverty, were inserted into Elijah’s life.

He was being prepared  for what God knew was coming.

A Desert Highway

“Sing to God;

make music to praise His Name.

Make a highway for Him to ride through the deserts.

The Lord is His Name.

Celebrate in His Presence.

The God who is in His holy dwelling place

 is the Father of the fatherless

and the Defender of widows.”  

Psalm 68:4-5

God loves music.  He created it.   His Song fills Heaven, and He clearly wants it to be used on this earth to praise His Name. He doesn’t give many details as to how it should sound.  He just loves to hear us humans singing and making music to praise Him.  He even specifies to focus on His Name.   That gives a lot of lee-way for the music-making. After all, He knows us, our capabilities, our talents and our musical abilities.  Or inabilities.  It doesn’t seem to matter that much…as long as we’re singing to Him with joy…with praise.

Imagine your own child making up a song telling the good things about YOU.  Would you get picky about the vocal quality? The musical skill?  The grammar?  The lyrics?   Probably (hopefully!) not.  It would be a joy just to hear the song they made up about you, describing the good things…the things they love about you.

I think it’s probably the same idea of God’s joy in hearing us – His kids – sing aboutHim, andtoHim.

It’s interesting that immediately following those words, He tells us to “make a highway for Him to ride through the deserts.  The Lord is His Name.”   Have you ever driven through a desert?….without a road or highway?  It’s brutal.  It’s dangerous.  It’s either hard, rocky, ground that can easily wreck a vehicle (and then you die out there), or it’s “sinking sand” that can literally bury a truck  or person (and then you die out there).

The “Great Desert” of Bible stories stretches from the Middle East all the way through North Africa.  It is the “least reached” part of the globe, as the majority of that massive region has never heard, read, nor met people who know and follow Jesus.

That region of the world is a great, vast desert….literally and spiritually.

God tells us to make a highway for Him to ride through the deserts.  And He wants us to do it with a Song….a Song of Joy about Who He Is.  He has a role for us to play in Singing His Story where there is little known of Him.

Notice the two key parts of His identity that He wants us to “sing”:

He is:

  • Father of the fatherless Through the brutal wars that have taken place in the past and are on-going in the present, there are millions of fatherless children in The Desert:  Middle East and North Africa.  His heart longs to be the Father to all those fatherless children.  They have seen so much death, have lived in dire, on-going war and fear, and are without the love, safety, protection and provision of a father.
  • Defender of widows Women are often of low value in that part of the world.  Widows are the most at risk.  They have little or no protection.   God wants them to know, to experience His Perfect, Powerful Protection over them. What a tender, welcome message for a part of this globe that has no idea of His Heart for them. 

God invites us to make the highway through the desert upon which He will ride as Good News…the Best News….to a broken, suffering world that waits to hear…

When we first met our “desert nation” in 1999, we were told that we were the first “Followers of Jesus” they had met. We were watched carefully, lest we “ruin” their world with our Western ways and religion.   However, within a few years, the first “public events” we were invited to bring were Worship Concerts, singing the songs they had come to love as we would sit through long, HOT afternoons with our CDs of songs of God and Jesus.  Our worship concerts went to every camp.

I think, without realizing it, that we were “making a highway through the desert” that He could ride through with the wonderful news of Who He Is…..”Father to fatherless, Defender of widows….”    All Good News!

What part of the Highway has He put you to work on?  Are you working on it?   Building that highway….that God will walk on to bring our lost world to encounter Him.

Living Your Identity

“The Father had put everything in Jesus’ control.

Jesus knew that.

He also knew that he had come from God

 and was going back to God.

  So he got up from the table, removed his outer clothes, took a towel, and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel that he had tied around his waist.”

John 13:3-5

Jesus knew exacty Who He Was.   And what an identity He had!!  He knew where He had come from, where He was going, and He knew the fact that he was in full control of everything!   He was One-of-a-Kind, in all of eternity.

Yet, directly tied to that Ultimate Identity, “because of that” look what He chose to do:

  • “So…He got up from the table.” Jesus got up from the cushion He was to sit on for this historic meal.  He stepped away from the table where His dearest friends would share the most important meal of the year, the Passover Meal.    Celebration. Family.  Remembering their people’s miraculous relationship with God.
  • “…Took off His outer robe”…His “good robe” . . .a mark of His identity and standing in that culture.  Jesus’ robe “had no seam”, a detail identifying the skillfully woven style of His outer robe, something of high quality.(John 19:23)
  • …”and instead took a towel and tied it around His waist.” The “uniform” of a servant, a slave.
  • “He poured water into a basin…” His friends knew exactly what that basin was for.  Jesus was preparing the “foot bath” for them.  This was the task of a servant, an act of total humility and practical necessity to be shown to guests.  This was a most lowly servant’s job.
  • “…and began to wash the disciples’ feet…” Dusty, dirty roads and hot climate made for sweaty, dirty people.  Sandaled feet took the worst of the dirt.  I would imagine smellyas well.  No one wanted to track dirty feet into someone’s home.  Keeping floors clean was difficult on its own, much less having a dozen men track the sand and dirt from outside into the room where they would eat the most important meal of the year.  Showing honor and hospitality in that part of the world was/is a high, high priority given to guests.  It would be shameful for the host to allow a guest to begin a visit without the best treatment they had to offer.  Jesus would have been the MOST honored guest that night, yet He purposefully took on the most lowly, humble role with His friends.  He put aside His Power and Identity and took on the lowest identity – that of a servant – who has no power at all.
  • “…and dry them with the towel He had tied around His waist.” This task takes time.  Washing….gently working the soap and water between toes, on the soles of each foot, and to the ankle.  It probably required changing the basin’s water many times, especially with 12 men. There is a humbling intimacy that occurs through this experience of having ones feet washed by someone of the home you are visiting.  There is personal care, gentleness, and time given in the process.  It is done with a heart of care and honor to each guest. It is not done quickly, as a dirty task that is finished as hurriedly as possible.  For the recipient, it is humbling.  Imagine the rough shape that open-sandaled feet are in, especially in a hot, dry, rocky land as Israel.  Cuts, bruises, calouses, blisters and hard, crusty skin (I don’t want to even think about the toenail situation)… each foot, by the hand of the host, is lifted, put into the basin of water, gently soaked and washed by the hand of the servant.  Then, the towel is carefully brought out to pat the freshly washed foot until it is dry.

“Jesus knew He had come from God and was going back to God.”   Very soon. Within the next few days.  He knew Who He Was….Whose He Was.  He knew “…everything was put in His [Jesus’] control”  by His Father.  He had the most miraculous, super-human, powerful, perfect Identity that ever walked the earth.  And He knew that these men, dear friends, would woefully fail Him in the coming hours and days.

Yet, in that Identity,  He chose humility, kindness, and love for His friends. He chose to serve them, notbe served by them.

 May we find such confidence in knowing Whose we are, that we can kindly, lovingly serve as Jesus served. . . even those who may hurt and disappoint us most.



  • How do you handle “serving”?
  • When do you struggle with thoughts of “deserving better” than what comes your way?
  • How might Jesus handle “being in your shoes [sandals]” in those moments?




Father’s Love

“As a father has compassion for his children,

 so the Lord has compassion

 for those who fear him.”

Psalm 103:13

Fathers have a very special role in the lives of their children. It’s different from the emotionsthat mothers feel toward their children. Compassion involves a choice of actionthat will meet a need.  This verse also includes an attitude of the child toward that father……an attitude of God’s children toward the Father.  It’s not the kind of “fear” that we think of as being afraid.  “…those who fearHim” have a true respectfor Him…respect for what He thinks, what He knows, and what He does, and who He is.

In the desert, there is great emotional love for one’s mother. She’s the nurturer…the one who provides emotional love and care.  Moms are comforting, tuned-in to the emotional well-being of their children. They’re the ones to snuggle.

Fathers, especially throughout the generations before my desert people became refugees, were the ones to whom the children had to give great respect.  If the radio was playing and the father or grandfather came into the tent, the radio was quickly silenced.  The father’s needs became the priority of the whole family.  There was no unruly behavior in his presence, no disregard of his presence in the room….no sillyness or shouting.  Rarely was there physical expression of love.  Even singing (unless requested) was seen as disrespectful of the father / grandfather.

But if a child was suffering in any way, most fathers would step in to do something to ease the suffering.  It was not very emotional, but rather, choices and actions to help bring an easing or rectifying of the problem.  Compassion causes us to choose to do something to ease suffering.   Fixing the problemis not always the wisest thing to do.

Sometimes, a desert father’s compassionrequired him to be away from his family for long periods of time….whether to engage as a soldier to protect his family and people, or traveling to find work to support his children.  These are not usually “emotional” choices, nor are they experienced as emotional “love” by the children.  But they are choices motivated by love that takes action as compassion.

Our Heavenly Father is most worthyof our deepest respect. Our contemporary world is not very familiar with “deep respect” (‘fear’) of other people.  Often, that lack of deep respect (fear)seeps into our attitude toward our Heavenly Father.   May we consider…and check our own hearts…

Are You a Refugee?

“God’s way is perfect!

The promise of the Lord has proven to be true.

He is a shield to all those who take refuge in him.” 

Psalm 18:30

We hear much about the plight of refugees in our world.  We see pictures, hear statistics, and may even try to help in some way.  But for most of us, the experience of being violently forced out of our home with only what we can carry is far, far away from our personal reality.

When I first visited the desert refugee camps of my Saharawi people, I would ask to hear their memories of being driven from their homes.  They described their shock, their panic to run from the military violence, their terror for family members who were not with them. They described their desperation of running for their lives but not knowing where to go except for the deadly desert that bordered their homeland.  Bombs, gunfire, deadly chemicals were being unleashed on them as they ran. The memories were old, but the tears flowed as if it had happened yesterday.

The “way” of this world is filled with trauma and tragedy. It has been so since its beginning.

What a dramatic contrast from “God’s way” . . . perfection.  He has given this world such promise!  Such hope!

The writer of this Psalm had experienced God Himself being his “Shield” and “Refuge.”   God Himself is the Shield, that piece of armor that covers and protects our heart and head from the deadly attacks that target us.  When we run to Him, our Refuge, we find safety.  But a Refuge can only become that safe place when we step inside.  There is no “refuge” if we stand outside and look at it, or lean against it, or point it out to our Enemy.  We need to enterour Refuge, and stay there.  On His terms, not ours.

These are words of war . . . of battle . . . of  a choice as to which side you are on.  There are no by-standers in a war.  We have the incredible advantage of knowing Who will Win the War that rages over us.  But as the battles rage, God offers us Protection as refugees who have run to Him . . . run for our lives.  It’s not a game.  It’s not a movie.  It’s not just a “good idea.”  It is war.

God’s perfect way, promised, proven and true, is offered to us if only we will run into His Refuge as He battles for our lives.