“Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come…”
(Psalm 71:3a)

Reading from the Psalms today I was reminded of playing tag when I was young.  There were all sorts of creative ways to play this simple game, from “Freeze Tag” to “Toilet Tag,” all with the basic premise: someone is “It,” and you don’t want them to “Tag” you.

solodistractionp1

Of course, playing tag usually always ended with an argument about who was actually “It,” who got tagged, and who was still in the game.  But nothing, NOTHING, induced more arguments than “Base.”  The premise of base is as simple as the game of Tag itself. Base is a safe place you can run to where you cannot be tagged.  The problem with base, though, was that it’s boundaries, or it’s very existence, was always in contention.  Still, if there was a “Base” in Tag, that’s where you wanted to be, and where you fought hard to return.

How did I get there from the Psalms?

In Psalm 71, the Psalmist is pleading with the Lord for a place of refuge.  We don’t know the particular details that led to the Psalm, but from a surface reading it is clear that it is the prayer of a follower of the Lord who is being persecuted by wicked, unjust, and cruel men (Psalm 71:4). But the psalmist isn’t seeking a fortress or base built by man – He is asking to take refuge in God himself.

We might ask, “how could God be his refuge?”  Maybe the better question would be, “what else could be his refuge?”  When the accusations come from those who would seek us harm, what can save?  When the doubts and fears rise to keep us from trusting and resting in the Lord, what do we need to hear?  Only God can deliver us from the enemy without and the enemy within.

Only God has defeated our accuser, Satan, who would heap our sin and shame upon our heads so that we would lose all hope of following in the ways of the Lord.  In his death upon the cross, Jesus has delivered us from the guilt and wrath of our sins, and has restored us to a righteous relationship with God, so that we are called the sons of God (1 John 3:1).  When those accusations rise, we are led to the rock that is higher than we are, we find Christ himself is our refuge and peace.

Only God is our refuge when doubts arise.  Struggling with doubt is like standing on the shore; with every crashing wave you sink deeper into the sand.

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But when we stand firm in our faith in God, our feet are on solid ground.  His word is true and never changing.  He is more unmoving than Gibraltar, mightier than Everest, stronger than diamonds.

The psalmist prayer was that he would find his refuge in the Lord, and that he could continually return to him.  The first solution to every tech problem is to restart the computer – to return it to its starting point.  The goal of every player in baseball is to get back to home base.  The security of every believer is to keep coming back home.

You are never too far to return to the refuge of Jesus.  Turn, repent, come round again, until you find your resting place in him. Trust Him to be your salvation, to be the Rock of Ages upon which you stand!

SDG

P.S. As I wrote this today, I was listening to the Reformation Network Broadcast, and just I finished writing, this song came on the radio. Click on the link below for a treat. Enjoy!

My God is a Rock

Safe on Base

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty…”
(Psalm 91:1)

Today’s message is brought to you by that eternal and ever-present childhood game: Tag.  You remember the game: running furiously to avoid getting “tagged,” until that moment you are “it” and you begin to chase the rest of the crowd.  “No-Tag-Backs!” you’ll hear the children shout, just to make sure they can get away.

Of course there are countless varieties to the classic game:

Freeze Tag – once you’re tagged you are “frozen” in place until another person crawls under your legs.

Blob Tag – one person starts as “it,” but as others are tagged, they join hand-in-hand to create a large “it” blob

Toilet Tag – when you are tagged you must squat down to form the toilet and hold out your hand like a handle.  To get back in the game, someone must flush you and make the flushing sound.

Then you will all remember crying “Base” just before you got tagged.  Now, a good game leader will have established a base, if there is one.  But when kids just get together and start playing,  base” becomes whatever is closest to keep you from getting tagged; a tree, a wall, a rock, it doesn’t matter, just so long as it keeps you “safe.”  Of course then, arguments ensue about the legitimacy of the base, how long one can stay, and how far away “it” has to stay from the base.  Who knew Tag could be so complicated.

Now you be thinking, Pastor Ethan’s lost his mind… and you might be right.  But there’s actually a point to all of this.  When playing tag, having a pre-determined base could come in handy.  It was a safe place, a place to catch your breath.  I always thought, as a kid playing tag, that base was a cop-out.  That was, until I needed one.

Wouldn’t it be nice if in this life, when thing are spiraling out of control, when everything is “tagging” you and you feel like you’re always “it” – wouldn’t it be nice if there were a place to call “base,” a hideaway, a safe place to go?

This is the promise of the Lord’s presence in Psalm 91:1-2.  “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’”

Now, before you all start singing “And he will raise you up on eagle’s wings…” consider for a moment what those verses have taught us about God.

God is a Shelter, a Refuge, a Fortress, He Hides us in the Shadow of his wings.  All of these images tell us that the Lord is a secure defense for those who trust in Him.  Keep in mind, you don’t need a shelter, a refuge, a fortress, a hiding place in times of comfort and ease.  The image of God as savior and keeper are only meaningful for those who need to be saved and kept from harm.

We are never promised that we will not face adversity.  In fact, Jesus said that those who follow Him must expect trials and tribulation (John 15:18-21).  Paul even said that no one who seeks to be righteous will avoid persecution (2 Tim 3:12).  We are not exempt from the storm, but we do have a shelter in the midst of it.

Today, whatever your facing, whatever storms are brewing, whatever “it” is chasing you down; run to Him who is your Shelter, your Refuge, your Fortress, hide yourself in the Shadow of His wings.

Sola Deo Gloria!