Sunday, September 14, 2008

The 46th Psalm.

Verse 1, Amplified Bible
God is our Refuge and Strength - mighty and impenetrable to temptation - a very present and well-proved help in trouble.

God. Creator of the universe. Wholly self-existent and self-sufficient. Omnipotent. Ever present, ever faithful, ever perfect God. Is my refuge? And my strength? What does that mean?

To me, it means this: When everything around me is falling apart, when I can't see anywhere to run, I can run to Him. I may not see him with my physical eyes. I may not be wrapped in His arms. But He is my refuge. I can go there to be protected. Safe.

I looked up "refuge" in a dictionary. Here's what I found:
A refuge is shelter or protection from danger or trouble. It is a place of shelter, protection, or safety. It is anything to which one has recourse for aid, relief, or escape.

That is my God. He is my shelter in times of trouble. He is my protection when I find myself in danger. I am safe with Him. He gives me aid. He puts people into my life who help. He's not deserted me yet, and I know he never will. He gives me relief. No matter what is happening, He gives me relief. He doesn't always take me out of the situation. He doesn't always take away the pain. But there is a peace... a peace that is a healing balm to the most dreadfully wounded soul. It cools the fire of rage. Warms the cold of betrayal. He is my escape. When all else fails, when there is nothing else to cling to, I can know this: if my life ends right now, I will find myself in His presence.

And what of this strength that this verse talks about? Do I really have that? I often don't think so. I feel weak. I feel flawed. I see every time I stumble. I know the worst parts of me. But others... they say I have that. My Pastor looked me in the eyes less than a week ago and told me I was "unusually strong." I don't understand that, at least not completely. It's not that I think I'm floppy or weak. It's just... any strength I have comes from God. And, while I see my flaws more than others do, I also see what He's done for me more than they do. And He's done so much. And He's made me strong. But the thing is... my strength shouldn't be unusual. We all have the opportunity to know the same God. I think maybe there's a lot of people running around who look weak on the outside. But really, if we could see inside them, we'd find that they're stronger than we ever imagined.

Verses 2-3, NIV
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

I get pictures in my mind. Pictures of giant chasms opening in the earth. People, faces reflections of terror, peering into the depths. Coastlines dissolving and disappearing into the sea. Swells of water washing away cities and even nations. Mountains far from the sea trembling from its wrath. I can see this in my mind. And there's no fear. If all that happened, if every last thing I know and love is ripped away... I still have God. And what could compare to that? And if God is for me, who shall I fear? Who (or what) could possibly be against me and have a hope of succeeding?

Verses 4-6, NIV
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the Holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice, the earth melts.

The thing here that strikes me is this... "He lifts His voice, the earth melts." Do you know what it takes to melt earth? I don't. I can't begin to fathom the frequency of vibration or the intensity of heat required. Not just melting old lava or anything like that. Melting earth. The world. A planet. Wow. And simply raising His voice can accomplish this. That is an awesome thought. Fearful. Wonderful. Did I mention the word "wow"?

Verse 7, New Century Version
The Lord All-Powerful is with us; the God of Jacob is our defender.

All that stuff we just read? Everything I just said about this God? He is our defender. He defends us. Not just from things hear on earth. Not just from bad people. But, most of all, He defends us when Satan is raging in our faces, shouting all the things we've done wrong. Painting terribly detailed images of our failings and short comings. Illuminating every evil thought and deed, and railing against us. Demanding our spirit and soul, claiming them as his. Forever. In the face of that, we have God. He is our defender. He says, "No. This one is mine." And whatever he tries, Satan can't have us. He can't win. Because we have this most awesome defender.

Verses 8-9, Amplified Bible
Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has wrought desolations and wonders in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow into pieces and snaps the spear in two; He burns the chariots in the fire.

Verse 10, NIV
"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

This one is whispered to me a lot. In the midst of turmoil and confusion. When I'm angry. When I'm tired. When I'm upset. When the tears are hot and emotions wild. Somehow, I'll hear just a gentle whisper... "Be still. And know that I am God." I've been trying to listen to that more.

When life is falling apart... or at least seems to be falling apart... it's when I listen to those words that God is able to minister to me. It's not while I pace the floor, ranting about how terrible it is. It's not when I'm on my knees crying out for help. It's not when I call someone to "just listen." It's when I turn off the music. Disconnect the phone. Lock the doors. Close the blinds. Put the cats in a different room. Kneel down. Close my eyes. And I'm still. In that stillness, I can hear as He whispers to my heart. I'm not to busy to notice the peace that begins to rise. I focus my thoughts on who He is. On His might. His power. His love. His never ending, never failing love. And I know that He is God. And... it works.

The situation doesn't always change. Sometimes, it almost seems to get worse. But I'm reminded of that one all-important truth - God is for me. He loves me. He loves me so much, He allowed His SON to be sacrificed for me. I'll touch on this a different day, but for now let me say this... I would gladly give my life for someone. I wouldn't think twice about running into a burning building to try to save them. I'd even allow my husband to do it. But my child? I don't have kids here on earth. But I've loved a particular child with the most intense, heart-rending and sweet love I have ever known. I can only imagine the love for my own flesh and blood will be so much more than that. And I wouldn't give up that child for someone. Not even you. No way. But God loves us... He loves us that much.

Verse 11, New Century Version
The Lord All-Powerful is with us; the God of Jacob is our defender.

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