I am a Christian pastor who wishes to bring glory to God in all that I do, and to help people through my writing to know Him better.
21st Century Fears
Have you ever witnessed a dog, or other animal during a thunderstorm get frightened by the loud clap of thunder and go scurrying under the bed or nearest place of safety? The fear that they had was real to them and they were afraid for their lives.
I know as children many of us, when we were afraid, ran to the loving arms of one of our parents. Somehow in their firm embrace we felt safe and secure.
The monsters under our bed would sometimes disturb our rest for fear that they would devour us. That is until our mom or dad came to our bedroom, turned on the light, and said: "See, the monsters are all gone now! Relax and go to sleep!" How we rested after we heard their words of comfort!
Some of us children, like the dog during the storm, had a secret place to go to when things got rough and we couldn't cope with our childhood problems. We had a place where we could hide from everything and everyone who was causing us to be uneasy. Somehow getting away from it all for a little while helped us to feel better.
Even as an adult, don't we sometimes wish that we could turn back the clock to a simpler time when life didn't seem as complicated; back to times when problems could be solved by a meaningful hug and a kiss from mom or dad who would tell us that everything was going to be all right? Or maybe we, on other occasions, still would love to have a secret place where we could just hide from it all until things get better?
But life is so much more complicated now, isn't it? And things aren't always just going to be all right. We know that there is evil in the world and it isn't solved easily. Sickness occurs. Loved ones die. Relationships end. Financial reversals happen and threaten to take away our security.
All around us there are murders, wars, thefts and man's inhumanity to his fellow man. Our country, that we love and call home, has enemies, both domestic and foreign, who want to destroy us and the life that we've come to know.
We don't even feel completely safe sending our children to school anymore for fear of gun violence or evil people who might kidnap them and sell them into slavery through the black market of sex trafficking. Unfortunately, these are all legitimate worries in this 21st century world in which we live.
So, what can we do with so much uncertainty leading to feelings of a general lack of safety and well being? The answer to that is found in Scripture. God is our hiding place!
You Are My Hiding Place
I. A Word Picture
The Hebrew language is replete with word pictures and the particular ones used to describe our God are very beautiful and rich in meaning. Mis•tor and se•ter are used interchangeably in the Old Testament. Se•ter is the root of this word. It is a noun that can also be an adjective.
When we hear the word mis•tor we can detect the beginning of our English word mystery. A mystery is something that is hidden or secretive. In the sense in which these words are used of our God, Mis•tor and se•ter can refer to a place of refuge where a person can feel safe and secure. A hiding place.
The late heavyweight boxing champ, Joe Louis was once told to look out for the skills of an upcoming opponent named Billy Conn. Conn had great speed and a way of attacking and quickly moving out of the way. Not deterred, Joe Louis said of him: "He can run, but he can't hide!" Sometimes, no matter how strong we are, we are like the would be champ Billy Conn. We can dart around and run but ultimately we are vulnerable to being knocked out by life and by the greater strength and abilities of our enemies. But, unlike Conn, we have a place to run to and hide. We have the Lord!
There are many Scriptures in which this word picture is used. Here are a few:
1. "You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah." (Psalm 32:7).
2. "You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait for Your word." (Psalm 119:114).
3. "Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings." (Psalm 17:8).
4. "Hide me from the secret counsel of evildoers, From the tumult of those who do iniquity." (Psalm 64:2).
5. "Deliver me, O LORD, from my enemies; I take refuge in You." (Psalm 143:9).
Of course, no words can adequately describe the power and protection of our wonderful God, but these come as close as any can ever hope to get.
II. A Pride Problem
It is wonderful to know that God is with us and is a shelter through all of the storms and monsters of life. However, many of the events in this world that we need help with are self-imposed and caused by our own stubborn pride.
There is a scene in Disney's 'The Lion King' where the baby Simba disobeys his father Mufasa and ends up getting in a place where he is cornered by three hyenas intent on killing him. Simba roared at them, leaving them hysterical with laughter that such a small cub would think that he could scare them away. They taunt him to roar again. He does. However, this time Mufasa comes to his rescue and chases away the hyenas.
;Unfortunately we, like Simba, think we can handle our problems only to find out that we've bitten off way more than we can chew. And we need our Heavenly Father to come to our rescue. We stand behind him as he fights on our behalf. And when all is said and done he lovingly warns us not to disobey him again.
Psalm 32, which we referred to earlier, is probably a parallel passage to Psalm 52 in which David acknowledges his sin in sleeping with Bathsheba and murdering her husband.
The 32nd Psalm begins by saying how happy a person is who has has had his sins forgiven by the Lord. David says:
"Blessed is he
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man
whose sin the LORD does not count against him
and in whose spirit is no deceit." (32:1-2)
Then the King relives the heartache of his life before sin's confession. He continues:
"When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer. Selah." (3-4)
Finally David tells of the utter freedom that comes with sins acknowledgment. Verse 5 says:
"Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, 'I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD'--
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin. Selah."
It is in this context that David turns to his God as a Savior and Protector. We hear this from his lips:
"Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you
while you may be found.
Surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him.
You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah. " (32:6-7)
The term "Selah" after each stanza here is most likely a musical term, asking the reader to stop and think about what was said. As we think about and contemplate the Psalm we realize that despite our prideful dalliances and no matter how far we may get from the safety and love of our dear Lord, he is quick to take us back and allow us into his presence and protection as soon as we are ready to repent and run back into his strong arms.
Ultimately, throughout it all, we still have a Heavenly Father who has authority over the universe. We are his children through Christ and he will, in the end, make it all right, though now it may seem all wrong. He will bandage our scrapes, kiss our bruises and bring us the comfort that only a parent can bring. He is our place of refuge. It is to Him that we can run for shelter in the thunderstorms of life. He will be the one to chase the creatures out from under our bed and tell us: "See, the monsters are all gone now! Relax and go to sleep!" And because of his presence we can rest peacefully, knowing that our God is near. It is he who will keep us safe until morning! He truly is our hiding place! Praise his holy name!
© 2018 Jeff Shirley