My Forever Refuge

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“And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.”  Psalm 9:10

Well, here I am thinking about what it means to trust again.  In the Hebrew, it’s the word batach.  It’s root means to hie for refuge.    Hie, since I don’t really use that word, is a word chiefly used in poetry meaning to move or run with haste.  So batach is about moving or running with haste toward refuge.  Refuge, according to Noah Webster, is all about shelter or protection from danger or distress.  Batach is all about trusting in someone, being confident in someone, being sure in someone, being bold in someone, being secure in someone, and having hope in someone.  Oh, I can trust in the wrong someone or the wrong something, but then that’s not what trust was designed for.  Trust was designed to be placed in One Someone and then I will reap the benefits of trust properly placed.  But if my trust is where it shouldn’t be, I will reap the consequences of running to an empty shelter, a useless refuge.

There are 120 occurrences of batach in Scripture.  And if I take the time to look at them I see how what I trust makes a crucial difference in my life.  If I go back to Deuteronomy 28, I see God warning Israel because they have placed their confidence in their high and fenced walls instead of the God who gave them the city.  Because their trust was misplaced, they wouldn’t know where to run when the time came.  They didn’t really have a proper picture of who You are God, nor did they have a proper picture of walls, no matter how tall and thick.  Every wall I know of is made of the temporal.  Every wall I know can be breached somehow and someday, something will be invented to destroy it.  A wall doesn’t care for those inside or out.  It may defend but it can’t run to your defense.  Not like a living, all powerful God can and will.  How do we miss things like that, Lord?  How do we ever find ourselves trusting in walls instead of You?  Is it because we would want to have our way so badly that we would choose ignorance over truth and surrender to Someone who is fully able to be our Refuge and Keeper?

In Judges 9 I see people running after their own ways.  A guy named Gaal comes along and people put their trust in him.  See, earlier there were a lot of sons of this one guy, the famous Gideon, actually.  And one of his sons decided he wanted to be head honcho, so he went out and killed all his brothers, except for one who hid.  He had no idea what it was to trust in You, Lord.  And other people trusted in him instead of You.  And the people that backed him, well, You used inner turmoil and false trust in another to bring them to implode upon themselves.  That’s where Gaal comes in.  I mean, why would we choose to trust in a man who can be unreliable and bent on his own ways and his own benefit, when we can trust in a God who is always faithful and always doing right, on a God who is fully able and has all the power to back it?  Why would I put confidence in a man instead of God?

Trust is being quiet and secure.  Where do I go for my quietness?  Where do I go for security?  Is it a thing?  Is it a person?  Is it a place?  All those pass.  All those can change.  All those are flawed.  Why don’t I go to You?  You don’t pass, You are forever.  You don’t change, You are the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  You are not flawed, You are incorruptible.  How do I forget?  How do I get so wrapped up in other thoughts?

See, You promise us that You will be that place where “there is no want of any thing that is in the earth.” (Judges 18:10)  We only find that in You and whatever You give us.  And what You give isn’t for us to have to occupy for ourselves.  What You give is for us to occupy for You.  When You blessed Adam and Eve and told them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth,” You never intended for us to do that in our power, for our own kingship.  Why do I say that?  Because before this mandate, God created man for His glory.  I was created to glorify, You God, not myself.  Every man, woman, boy, or girl was created in the image of God, to bear Your image and likeness in the world and over all created things.  We were created to trust You and live lives that demonstrate that trust and confidence and dependence before all of creation.  We’re to subdue or keep the whole world under Your reign God, under Your image. 

Think of it though, right there at the start, You told Adam and Eve to fill the earth and subdue it.  Why would they need to fill something You had just completed and saw was good?  Why would they need to subdue what was already good.  If it was good, why would it need to be kept under subjection, to be kept good?  Something inherently good, just is, right?  Well, what if You knew all along what was coming?  What if You knew that Adam and Eve were getting ready to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  What if You knew they wouldn’t always trust You more than themselves or another or the things they wanted?  And what if it takes some really hard treading down on our part to say no to trusting another?  What if it takes deliberate disregard of false trust, and a deliberate effort to conquer that tendency and everything that defies You in my life.  What if I’m going to be in bondage to one thing or another and so I better determine what I want to bring myself under subjection to because One leads to life and the other to death?

There are so many things I can trust in.  The Israelites trusted in the lies in wait.  I can trust in people, my profession, my money, my fame, my talent, my friends, my ministry, my possessions, my fun, my knowledge, my whatever.  I can even trust in what I fear.  I can trust bitterness, love, tolerance, my sexual “preference” or whatever I want that suits my purposes.  But where will it lead me?  It will lead me to emptiness and subjugation to someone or something who doesn’t give a hoot about my eternity.  Or I can trust in You Lord.  I can cleave to You, and follow You no matter what, and keep Your ways, and experience You being with me and what it is to prosper in You. (2 Kings 18)  I can rebel against the things that stand against You.  I can stop trusting in broken reeds and trust in the Reed that Never Breaks.  I can stop listening to those who don’t even know You and falsely talk about You.  I can know You and what You require.  I can walk with You and in Your ways.  You tell me that You want me to delight in You.  Yes, I can delight in You.  You know what, Lord, I have no problem with being subdued or brought under subjection to someone who wants me to delight in them and wants to delight in me.  That would be shear joy!

I could trust in horses or chariots, but what are they to me?  They don’t want a relationship of love and care with me.  They can’t make me more than I am.  They won’t rush in and rescue me.  But You do, God.  You rush in and rescue us all by Yourself when there is no one else who can.  But You are able.  And You do.  There is so much deception.  I don’t have to believe it.  I can know You well enough, closely enough, that I can tread down the lies. I can bring the lies under Your subjection, the subjection of the truth by living according to it.  I can defy the world and it’s ideas by trusting You and living in that trust.  I can be a visible image of Your power in this day and age, of Your ways, or Your words, of You.  That’s what Adam and Eve were called to.  That’s what we are called to today.

Psalm 2:12 ends with a different word for trust.  It says, “Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.”  When I put my trust in the Son, it’s not just a factual belief or even an intellectual agreeing.  Here’s this different word, chasah, a verb, that means to flee for protection, to confide in, to have hope, make refuge, (put) trust.  This is my obligation to the One who is our only refuge.  God rescues me but I have a personal obligation to run to that rescue.  I think of flood warnings where people were warned to leave and take shelter, yet they chose to stay where they were and lost their lives.  We can choose to do that with You too, God.   But if I want to be whole, if I want to be satisfied, if I want to be safe and secure, if I want to know true joy, I have to choose to run to You. 

It’s what Hezekiah did.  He didn’t fill his mind with Sennacherib’s words.  He laid it out before You.  He ran to You for protection right away and spread it out before You.  He knew You alone were God over everything and everyone.  He prayed.  He cried out for Your help.  He prayed to a living God, a God who is able to protect.  It didn’t matter if the kings of Assyria had destroyed other nations and lands.  It didn’t matter if Assyria had cast out the other nation’s gods.  Why?  Because none of the other gods were real.  They weren’t alive.  But You are a living God.  You can deliver.  You can help.  Only You can do this.  But I have to put my confidence in You and demonstrate it by my actions and my life.

So, when I act upon my trust, when I place that trust in You, I receive all kinds of benefits.  These are just the side products of that relationship of confidence in You.  My heart bursts with rejoicing in Your salvation.  (Psalm 13:5)  It’s not just that I realize salvation as a fact or a doctrine. I get it.  I realize the reality of what You have done for me.  It excites me and moves me.  The appreciation is real.   You put a song in my heart that wants to burst forth because I realize the depth of what You have done and are doing.  You keep me strong.  I experience Your power.  I’m delivered time and time again.  I delight in You and You delight in me.  You give me hope when there is no other hope around.  You help me when no other help can be found.  You take away my shame and give me victory.  You take away my fear and give me confidence.  You give me integrity.  I get to dwell with You so closely that I can gaze on Your beauty and experience it, experience You first hand.  I have pleasure in obeying You because in You and Your ways is my protection and my Protection is real, my Protection is a person who loves me and cares for me and hides me.

David’s cry in Psalm 27 was all about this.  “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.  Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.  One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.  For He will hide me in His shelter in the day of trouble; He will conceal me under the cover of His tent; He will lift me high upon a rock.”  You know the truth is that every day is a day of trouble.  Every day I need to be hid in Your shelter.  Every day I need to be concealed under the cover of Your tent.  Every day I need to be lifted high upon the rock that is You, Jesus.  Because any day that I am not finding my refuge in You is a day of great trouble.  “You have said, ‘Seek My face.’ My heart says to You, ‘Your face, Lord, do I seek.’”  I want to actively remain in the shelter of You.  Lord keep me from the will of my adversaries, which sometimes is my very own heart.  I want to love the goodness that is You and just feast my eyes upon You all the time.  I want to wait for You and in the waiting be strong and courageous because I know You, I really know You my living God!  Yes, in my waiting let me continually flee to You so that there is no separating us.  Be my forever Refuge that I never leave.

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