Monday, September 25, 2017

The Hiding Place


[Photo of of stuffed animals in a corner]

“For in the day of trouble he will keep
me safe in his dwelling; He will hide
me in the shelter of his tabernacle.”
—Psalm 27:5

Do you remember as a child loving hiding places? A little closet under the stairs, an attic hideaway, or even a spot behind the sofa? Old houses often had intriguing rooms, forgotten and dusty, but places for secret meetings with sisters and friends. Nancy Drew mysteries often revealed wonderful rooms behind bookcases or under floors.

You may also have read the story The Hiding Place by Corrie TenBoom, a real-life story of her family who hid Jews in Holland during the early days of World War II. That special secret room in their house served only utilitarian uses—no frills or extra comforts.

When the Scriptures speak of God hiding us in the secret place, or in His refuge, I think of something a lot less frightening and more inviting. Sometimes, He refers to these places as under the wings of a large mother bird, or a strong tower as in Psalm 91. In this psalm, the psalmist tells us that this place provides rest and protection from such things as snares, pestilences, terror, plagues, and arrows.

What makes God’s refuge a place of rest? Because He not only supplies the place, He is the place. Can God be a large enough Place to give us comfortable rest, every provision, and protection until the storm or trouble has passed? Psalm 91 also tells us He sees to it that angels guard us, as well. Just as Noah’s family rested comfortably in the rooms provided in the ark, God stocks our hiding places with all that we need for the duration of our storm.

Hear the admonition of Psalm 62:5:

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress. I will not be shaken.

God does, indeed, prepare a wonderful refuge for us when we need a hiding place: fully equipped, comfortably ready, and surprisingly fortified with His strong Presence. Praise the strong name of the Lord!



Monday, September 18, 2017

They Called Her “Much Afraid”


[Photo of a woman despair]

“When I am afraid, I will trust in
you. In God, whose word I praise, in
God I trust; I will not be afraid.”
—Psalm 56:3-4

In Hannah Hurnard’s classic allegory, Hinds’ Feet On High Places, the main character, little Much-Afraid, lives among her relatives, the Fearings, in the Valley of Humiliation. She knows the Good Shepherd and desires His fellowship. She learns that He wants her to leave this place and follow Him, rather than live forever with those who would have her marry Craven Fear, the fiercest of the Fearings.

Much-Afraid learns from the Shepherd how to climb to the High Places, the Kingdom of Love. This is the place where His love casts out all her fears, including all those kin who have plagued her throughout all of her life. Through the struggles of a very long and circuitous journey, she becomes Acceptance-With-Joy in the Kingdom of Love.

This journey from fear to acceptance, love, and peace cannot happen quickly. In our own lives, we seem to have to learn this lesson over and over. Some of us have a greater struggle than others, because we too live among Fearing relatives who constantly whisper their evil plans for us in our ears.

I am intrigued that God speaks the words “Be not afraid” more often than just about any other admonition in Scripture. He knows our weakness and the trials we come up against in this fallen world. After all, Jesus Himself lived with the terrors of sickness, storms, plots of hatred, sleepless nights, and even death. He most certainly understands fear.

Unfortunately, this life does not afford us a quick fix to our fears. But, I believe that God wants us who know Him to learn to trust Him, to look in His face, to arm ourselves with His promises through His word, and to seek His hope and encouragement. The path away from fear takes us through obstacles, sharp precipices, loneliness, and often dangers on every side.

If you are dogged by this constant companion Fear, hear Your Savior say to you in the words of Isaiah 41:9-10:

“You are my servant; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”



Monday, September 11, 2017



[Photo of a boy in braces]

“But for you who revere my name, the sun of
righteousness will rise with healing in
its wings. And you will go out and leap
like calves released from the stall.”
—Malachi 4:2

I could hear the squeals of delight as Jamie came down the hallway. In these first few days since he had learned to walk, he had the time of his life. Jamie had come to kindergarten in a wheelchair. Eventually, he learned to get beyond his ability to crawl, and, through much therapy, began to use a walker.

Another year had Jamie walking with braces and crutches. And, then came the time, somewhere in the middle of his second grade year, when he could walk on his own. He acted like an ecstatic baby who had just learned to walk. The same joy and laughter accompanied him everywhere he went.

I remember thinking that when God makes us new creatures in Christ, our first days of “walking in the Spirit” seem like that of an ecstatic toddler. We walk in joy for we have been healed from the bondage of sin. But, like Jamie, after we have walked in this new life for awhile, the novelty of it wears off, and we start to behave like all the others around us.

Human nature causes us to forget our early joys. In Revelation 2:1-7, God gave John the Apostle words to send to the Church in Ephesus. After telling them the good things about their church, God says this:

Yet, I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.

I don’t think God intended for us to ever lose the joy of first love. He wants us to walk with Him every day, just as we did that first day, in delight and gratitude.

Take time today to reflect on your new life in Christ. Remember your first excitement in following Him, and the freedom that kind of joy brings. Others will notice the difference Christ has made in your life. As you traverse the hallways of your life, may laughter and gladness accompany you!



Monday, September 4, 2017

Going Overboard


[Photo of Jesus' disciples on the Sea of Galilee]

“Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the
Lord, he put on his outer garment
(for he
had removed it), and plunged into the sea.”
—John 21:7b

I love impetuous Peter. He couldn’t hold back his enthusiasm or his love for the Lord Jesus. Familiar around boats all his life, twice we read in the Gospels that he jumped overboard into the water.

The most familiar story we remember comes from Matthew 14:22-32. This passage tells the story of the storm on the Sea of Galilee, or Lake of Gennesaret, in which the disciples feared for their lives. Jesus came to them on the water, and Peter jumped out of the boat and walked on top of the water to meet Him. Here Peter exhibited enough faith to take a few steps toward Jesus before he had to call out for rescue.

A lot of time and experience had passed between that event and the one in which Peter again jumped out of the fishing boat to greet his Lord. Jesus had gone through the torturous death on the cross and come out of the grave alive. The disciples had seen Him a few times before He came to them on this morning after they had fished all night. Yet, Peter had haunting memories of his three denials of his Lord (recorded in John 18) and couldn’t let this moment pass to show his love and even shame over what he had done.

I like Peter. He always seemed to show his love to Jesus in obnoxious ways. He would say things and do things that appeared unorthodox and perhaps silly. No one could keep him and his wild passions for Christ from going overboard. In more ways than two!

Peter had zeal. We don’t often use that word anymore. But, it fits the description of this powerful disciple. God likes zealous people. In Numbers 25:10-13, God rewarded Phinehas for his courage in defending the honor of his God and his zeal. In John 2:17, the disciples watched Jesus overthrow the tables of the wicked in the temple and commented on His zeal for God.

In Romans 12:11, we read instructions to those who know Christ:

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Can people see in us a definition of zeal for God, for Christ’s name, for His church? Do we dare go overboard for Him, even though others might scoff at us? Do we love Him with an eagerness that glorifies His greatness and causes those who don’t know Him to take notice? Does our fervor encourage others to display the same fervency? Does it keep us going even when all seems bleak?

Let us pray with the hymn writer who asks God for “one holy passion filling all my frame.”1 His love for us went overboard when God sent His only Son to us, and then allowed His death on the cross to pay for our guilt. He deserves nothing less than our passion for Him!


1 Croly, George. Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart. Public Domain.