Oct 14 2012

A Strong Tower

 

“For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.”  Psalm 61:3

A couple of days ago I had a chance to visit Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming. Even though I had been there before, the sight of Devils Tower rising from the earth still impressed me. From the pictures shown here some of you may recognize Devils Tower as the formation that was featured in the movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” It has, however, other claims to fame. This park was declared the first national monument in the United States in 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt. It is also considered a sacred place by many native Americans.  Some people come to Devils Tower not to view or photograph it but to climb it. 

The monolith known as Devils Tower rises 867 feet from its base and stands 1,267 feet above the river and 5,112 feet above sea level. I’m not sure how this great tower came to be known as “Devils Tower” but I know that seeing it made me think of someone else–the God who made it. Throughout the Scriptures God is often referred to as a “strong tower” or “place of refuge.”  Viewing Devils Tower I was reminded how God truly has been “a strong tower” in my life, as well as a place of refuge.

The world we live in is ever-changing and unpredictable. Sometimes we can feel afraid in the midst of life’s constant changes and uncertainties.  A lot of people live with anxiety because there doesn’t seem to be anything to hold on to, anything that is constant and unchanging, in our chaotic and turbulent world. I’m not sure there is anything we can hold on to help but I do know that there is Someone we can hold on to. In one of the great hymns we are reminded “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”  The contemporary chorus, “Shout to the Lord,” likewise refers to Christ as our “my comfort, my shelter,  tower of refuge and strength.” 

I truly do give thanks for the stability and security God brings to my life.  As strong and mighty as Devils Tower appears to be, it does not begin to compare with the strength and might of the One who made it.  Nor does one have to go to Wyoming to find the strong tower and refuge that is God. The Solid Rock is available wherever you are.  All you have to do is call out for Him and He is there.  That’s His promise, not mine, but I have discovered it is true.  I hope you have as well.

–Chuck

 


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.)