Monday, January 30, 2012

My Gift

Like most people (I think) the book of Psalms in the Bible is a favorite.  The chapters (each Psalm) are fairly short and generally they make easy reading.  They are the praises and heart cries of principally one man, David, and a few other men who in their joy, rest, struggle, sin, anguish, war and being pursued by enemies poured out their hearts to God.  They are words we can easily identify with.  On any given day, we can take a psalm and make it our own.  Reading, singing or shouting in joy or hope, these verses of 150 chapters become the very emotions we are feeling and need to express. 

A couple of years ago, I took on the task of really studying one of my favorites.  Psalm 16.  I originally began by desiring to write a Bible study for others, but ended up writing pages upon pages of my own study, discovering riches I had no idea were hidden in these eleven verses.  I did word studies, culture investigation, inspecting the man, David, and towards the end of an entire year focusing on this one Psalm, came upon another Bible study devoted to Psalm 16:6 which wrapped up my own in depth investigation of this Psalm like a beautifully wrapped gift.  

However, this "gift" has sat in a drawer and in a file on my computer for months.  Recently, I felt a strong nudge from the Lord, to get it out, dust it off and share it.  So for the next weeks, off and on, I will hand over to you my gift and hope as you open it, will bask in the beauty of God's Word and the endless understanding Word can bring to our lives.

Enjoy and open with care....

Psalm 16:1 "Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge."

When I began studying this...I inserted "Keep me (my heart) safe, my God..."
Psalm 17:8 says..."hide me in the shadow of your wings."  Psalm 7:1 tells me to take refugee in you.  The Amplified Version expresses it this way... "I hide myself in you."

Hannah Whithall Smith in her book "Safe Within Your Love" says...”I feel just like a little chick who has run out of a storm and under his mother’s wings and is safe there.  I hear the raging storm and I am utterly unable to comprehend it or measure the damage it is doing.  But I am safe under His wings  He can manage the dark storm but I cannot.  Why then should I worry or be anxious?....When I feel hopeless or fear, I know I need to get back under His wings.”

Have you ever seen the movie "Twister"?  The movie starts out with a family running for cover to their cellar when a tornado is approaching.  They are underground hearing the unimaginable roar of the twister, the wind and rain.  When it has passed and they come up for air, the camera pans the absolute devastation the twister has wrought all around them. They could "hear" the storm, but they were safe underground.  Only after it had passed, did they actually see.

Our family was in Indiana once during a tornado "watch", a first for us.   I awoke in the middle of the night hearing the most terrifying wind and noise.  The rest of the family slept peacefully (I am a light sleeper...but it does add a touch to this story :)  I heard the storm, but the hubby and kids were at peace.  The radio in another part of the house was telling our friends "what to do". As I marveled that anyone could sleep through that, I was reminded that it is the same with God and His Word - a storm is approaching (as will always happen in life) and God tells us what to do.  Do we take refuge in Him?  

The Message Bible says "Keep me safe, O God (El Shaddai...The MOST GOD ALMIGHTY), I've run for dear life to you."  Sometimes we need to actually RUN towards God for his protection - there is no where else to go.

To seek refuge or to give refuge means:
** to keep, to guard
** to have charge of, to keep watch over, to protect (a watchman)
** to keep within the bounds and to restrain (I like this!)

A refuge is a shield, a fortress, a dwelling place and a strong tower.

What does taking refuge mean to you when you are in the midst of disaster or chaos?  What does that look like to you?  When I began this study, the devastating earthquake had just happened in Haiti.  Total loss for hundreds of inhabitants of that island.  How does someone who has quite literally LOST IT ALL...loved ones, home, all belongings, only the shirt on their back and a pile of rubble to look at realizing "this is all that is left".  Where do you go...what do you do....what does "a refuge" look like to you?  It could be a medical diagnosis you weren't expecting, a flood, a death of a close family member, a betrayal.  Where do we find hope in such seemingly hopeless circumstances?

Our family experienced a house fire nearly 25 years ago.  We lost all material possessions except the clothes on our back.  I grabbed my year-old son as I ran out the door.  I will NEVER forget waking the next morning in the home of good friends and realizing I didn't even have a comb for my hair or a toothbrush.  I had slept in my only clothes.  The feeling of losing all you owned.  As the shock wore off, I was incredibly grateful that what really mattered was lying in the bed next to husband and year-old son (although he was asleep in a cardboard box next to our bed :)  I can honestly say, if I had not had the LORD, as my REFUGE during that season, my life today would look sadly different.  I would pour out my heart daily to Him of the aches of losing it all.  There is so much more to this story, I will share at another time....or today's blog will turn into a book....but GOD proved His faithfulness to us above and beyond what we could have even imagined as we walked through those oncoming weeks and months.  He was our REFUGE.  He was the One we poured our hearts out to.  He was the One who carried our burden.  He was the One who provided friends to support us during that time.  

What did that look like?  Daily expressing my heart to Him, daily crying out when I couldn't make a decision and life was too overwhelming...walking into the store that next day with a check from the Red Cross to "buy what we need"....where do you even begin?  A comb? A toothbrush?  Underwear?  Getting out of bed each morning, taking another breath and acknowledging HIM as my protector, my guide, my refuge...the One who will keep me within my bounds.  Crying out to Him for understanding and grace, when the tensions of decisions could greatly affect your relationships with those around you.  Keeping my focus on HIM rather than what I could "see".

Sometimes God allows it all to be stripped we have no where else to go but to HIM.  And when we do...He gives Himself to us....and He is released to pour out blessing upon blessing.  Sometimes we don't know how much we need God to be a refuge until we actually need one.  The great thing about God being my refuge is He will never disappoint!  All other "refuges" or forms of protection we seek will disappoint.

Today, let Psalm 16:1 be a song on your lips.  And He will not disappoint!


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