2 Samuel 22:3 reminds us that God is our refuge, shield, salvation, rescue, and savior. What more could we ask for? Amen!
In Psalm 94, the author calls God his fortress & refuge. God may not remove our problems, but he allows us to hunker down with him.
At least 15 times in the book of Psalms, the author asks a prayer along the lines of, “How long, O Lord?” Sometimes, the psalmist is referring to rescue from his enemies, but other times, he is crying out for God’s attention in his own life – for forgiveness and mercy. If I’m completely honest, I have prayed numerous “How long, O Lord?” prayers in the years since my two nephew-sons joined my household: How long will their grief manifest in anger? How long until they can understand and manage their emotions in a healthy way? How long will it take for their own tragedies to become tools that will equip them to minister to others? How long until it feels like I’ve done the right things for them as a parent? Those aren’t rote prayers that I recite, but the questions have been on my heart for a long while. Well, I learned this week that one of them was asked to be desk buddies with a new kid in his class. The new boy had a traumatic situation in utero and suffers from physical and cognitive challenges. He’s in a mainstream class but needs extra help. My son came home positively bubbling over and raving about how excited he was to be asked to help. As I listened to him share and sensed his compassion and kindness toward his new friend, it felt like those prayers that I’ve lifted up for years were coming to fruition. In the psalms mentioned previously, the author tends to conclude with an account of God’s goodness. In Psalm 35, David writes, “My tongue will proclaim your righteousness, your praises all day long” (NIV). The author of Psalm 79 declares, “Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise” (NIV). Psalm 94 declares, “But the Lord has become my fortress and my God the rock in whom I take refuge” (NIV). After crying out to the Lord for who knows how long about enduring certain trials, the writer remembered to go back to the source with praise. Each of us has a different faith-journey, and the challenges in my life will look different from the trials in your life. Yet, one thing remains constant: We serve a great and mighty God, and he will never leave you stranded (Deuteronomy 31:6, Matthew 28:20). I also believe that he’s got a big enough lap for his children (that’s you & me!) to climb into his arms and cry out, “How long, O Lord?” when life feels like it is beating us up. I am confident that he can handle our tough questions, but we need to be like the psalmist and lavish him with praise when we witness the answers to those prayers.
I walk my younger kids to the bus stop each morning, and I stand across the street a couple of houses away – far enough to give them some space but close enough that they know I’m watching in case they get any foolhardy ideas and forget how to behave. I start walking back to the house when the bus approaches their stop, and then I turn and wave as the bus drives past me.
We did this routine every morning for the first several days of school, and then one morning, one of the boys hollered to me as the bus drove up: “Mom! Don’t forget to wave!” Until that moment, I didn’t know if they even noticed that I had been waving to them. It was just something I did without really thinking about it, but it turned out to be something special.
It makes me wonder what else I do in my day-to-day life that seems mundane, “meh,” or just not noteworthy, but the people around me DO notice. The student worker at the front desk to my office notices whether or not I walk in with a smile on my face. The cafeteria worker notices when I say thank you for serving my plate. The person walking behind me notices when I hold the door open to let them into the building.
In Proverbs 18, the author spends the first nine verses talking about selfish people, the fools, the wicked, the guilty, etc. and then verse 10 takes a sharp turn and reminds us: “The Lord’s name is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and find refuge” (CEB). We have a chance everyday to be different from the foolhardy world around us. We can embody that safe place where people find hope.
I don’t want them to notice just some random polite lady, but I want them to notice Christ. I want them to notice that in the moment that our lives intersected, they mattered to me. We have such little time to make an impact in someone’s life. I don’t mean that to sound like a downer, but it’s true. Those people we pass on the sidewalk, the ones we see at work, or in class, or in church – we may not have another opportunity to be Jesus to them. The same is true in our families: One day, I won’t have any kids who still need to be walked to the bus stop. One day, they may not even want me to wave because it’s embarrassing in front of their friends.
I feel heavy-hearted with the weight of today. What have I done that mattered for eternity today? Because we aren’t promised tomorrow.