A place of refuge
Daily I have to set my mind and my spirit on a deliberate course, to go to the place of being hidden in him. I know we should stay there but at times like these I am checking where I am, I know the course of life can cause me to not live in that place no matter how great my intentions are. But my desire is to maintain that place of being hidden in Christ. For some you will say we are already there and we appropriate it by faith, yes I agree, as it says in Colossians 3:2-3 ‘Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. ‘ I also know that people have a tendency to drift and it is moments of attack or pressure that show us where we really are, then we can adjust our position and our bearing. Even this passage from Colossians is encouraging us to ‘set’ ourselves because of the truth. And that is what we do, we set our course because of the truth. We set our course to be hidden in Christ, to dwell in the shadow of the almighty ‘Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.’ (Psalm 91:1 NIV), that we might find rest.
Surely that is is what we want, in the midst of the pressure and the tests and attack, to find rest. It is a promise and we can set our course based on this truth. I don’t want to shipwreck my faith by setting a bad course. The enemy will lure you and distract you from the course The Lord would lead you on, the bright lights, the latest technology, the pretty girl or the seemingly caring guy. They can become sirens that draw us to destruction. Luke 15 tells the famous story of the prodigal son and how he asked for his inheritance that he may spend it all on wild living, the whispers of the enemy were great and he set his course to follow the sound. It all starts with a whisper, but who are you listening to? It was a whisper of a friend that offered me my first cigarette at school, that started a ten year course of smoking and trying to give up. I still like the smell of cigarettes. Ask yourself who you are listening to, for there are many voices, all wanting your attention. You can always tell the Lords, for his is the still small voice.
It is amidst the wind and waves that we don’t always check what we are listening to, we want relief from our pain, a place of sanctuary. I find it interesting that both the Lord and the enemy are looking to offer us places of sanctuary, but with polar opposite reasons and consequences.
Thinking back to the prodigal son, though he listened to the voices of the enemy and shipwrecked his life, there was still hope. It was only in the midst of life’s circumstances that he was able to hear. The voice of the Father had been drowned out by the lights of indulgence, only when the indulgence had been exhausted could he hear again, or was prepared to hear again. I am saddened that it takes painful circumstances to get my attention, that I too like the prodigal son have listened to other voices. I am eternally grateful for the faithfulness of the Lord who comes to rescue me again and again, like the lost sheep, he leaves the 99 to rescue me. Though let it be said, if we are so determined to keep our course, the Lord will allow us to stay in that place until we are ready to hear him, but that greaves his heart. The father hadn’t forgotten the prodigal son. There was a whisper that took root in the heart of the son, that if he just went back there would be a place of refuge. He misunderstood the nature of the place of refuge and maybe that’s why he left, maybe the lack of revelation and working knowledge of the true nature of his father allowed him to not be fully anchored and to be drawn towards the lights of wrong indulgence. But even with the small amount of truth that he had was working in his heart. He risked it. For truth is powerful, the words of The Lord are powerful and effective.
The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning. The voice of the Lord shakes the desert; the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!” (Psalm 29:3-9 NIV)
so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11 NIV)
And he set his course. His expectations were wrong, but he had a glimmer of hope, anything is better than where I am. He had come to his senses.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. (Luke 15:17-20 NIV)
His limited understanding didn’t prepare him for what was to come.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Luke 15:17-20 NIV)
There are five things the father did, the number five in scripture means grace. The father was showing grad to his son. He saw him, he was filled with compassion for him, he ran to him, he threw his arms around him and he kissed him.
He was not expecting this because he didn’t know his father, but he knew enough to return.
Don’t let the situations around you get so bad that it takes destruction to bring you to your senses. Lord let not the lights of the world capture me more than the place of your sanctuary. I want to daily set my course towards the place of refuge in the Lord.