Feb 6 2013

My Mighty Rock

DT-vI usually read a few Psalms before going to bed each night.  Last night I happened to read Psalm 61 and 62.  It didn’t take long to find a common denominator in these two psalms.  In both David compares God to a rock.  In Psalm 61 he says, “lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.”  Vs. 2b-3)  In Psalm 62 he writes, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” (vs. 1-2)  In this second psalm David repeatedly uses this image.  In v. 7 he says “My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.”

The imagery of God as a rock is a meaningful one.  Historically, high rocks have been viewed as places of refuge and even fortresses.  One might climb a rock for safety when the flood waters rise.  One might also find protection there from other dangers.  These days we may have other places we turn to for safety in floods or times of danger but we still understand the idea.  It is not hard to see how high rocks might be viewed as safe havens.

GT-Snake-River-OverlookNor is it hard to see how still today God might be compared to a rock.  God brings stability to our lives.  That is no small thing in the world in which we live!  God also is someone we can turn to when the floods of life come our way or when we find ourselves in times of trouble.  Martin Luther recognized.  One of the hymns he wrote begins with the words, “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing, our present help amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.”

Yosemite-reflection-759I am very thankful to have the rocklike presence of God in my life. In God I find the refuge I need in times of trial or sorrow.  In God I find a fortress or place of protection in life’s dangerous moments.  In more ways than one I would be lost were it not for “the rock that is higher than I.”  I happen to live in the mountains where there are a lot of high rocks.  I’ve also been privileged to travel to several places and photograph amazing rock formations and towers.  All of these serve as visual reminders to me of the true source of security and salvation in my life.  All of these remind me of the “solid rock” upon which I stand.

For these reminders, and the many others presented to us in Creation, I offer my gratitude.

–Chuck

(I took the top image at Devils Tower National Monument, the middle image at Grand Teton National Park, and the bottom image at Yosemite National Park.)


Feb 8 2012

Visual Aids

In Psalm 61 David declares that his heart has grown faint.  As a result, he offers the prayer: “…lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.”  (vs. 2-3)  In this petition the Psalmist uses both natural and manmade structures to describe God’s protection and power.  I suspect most of us can relate to David’s prayer.  When we find ourselves down and out we long to be lifted up.  When we are afraid we want to be protected and kept safe.  In God’s Creation we have some visual aids to help remind us that we, like David, have a place to turn to when we’re hurting, afraid or weary.

I happen to live in an area that is prone to flooding.  A couple of years ago we had a severe flood that came quickly and without warning.  Many people had to literally head for the hills to find safety.  When the floods or trying times of our lives come, we too realize the need for a place that “is higher than I.”  We recognize our need for God.  In Him we find the safety, security and protection we need.  When I look at mountains and hillsides I am often reminded of this and give thanks that God is always there for us.

Throughout the Bible you find references to towers.  Towers were used for several different purposes.  Some were agricultural structures where grain could be stored.  They would be like the silos we see on farms in our country.  Towers were also used as route markers to provide direction and as memorials or monuments.  Another use for towers in biblical times was as defensive structures.  From their heights a guard could watch for the approach of enemies and in times of danger people could find protection within the tower.  It is most likely the latter usage the Psalmist had in mind in Psalm 61 when he speaks of God being like a strong tower.  In God David was able to find the refuge he needed as his heart grew faint.

In my travels across America I have been able to see and photograph some pretty impressive natural towers.  Two of the most spectacular ones have been Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and Spider Rock in Arizona’s Canyon de Chelly National Monument.  Such natural towers serve as visual aids helping me remember that God is greater than I and that in Him I, too, can find safety and protection.

I find it amazing how often God’s “other book”—Creation—helps me better understand the Bible.  There are so many things in nature that point to God if we will only pay attention.   The more a person reads and studies the Bible the more often he or she will begin to see the visual aids God has provided for us in Creation.  I strongly believe that Christians should be good students of both of God’s books.  I have dedicated my life to the study of both and hope you have as well.

–Chuck

(The top image shows El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.  The middle image is Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly National Monument and the bottom image shows Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.)