In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me and save me.
Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.
For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from my birth; it was you who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.
As a youngster growing up in central New York, large rocks were a normal part of the landscape. There was a stone quarry not far from our hometown, where bluestone could be found. My Dad proudly speaks about the bluestone being part of the Chenango County courthouse and other buildings in Norwich, NY.
Whenever we visited Aunt Dolly’s home in Carthage (near Ft. Drum, home of the 10th Mountain Division), I would spend hours rock climbing on the two ‘enormous’ rocks in her backyard. With the sounds of artillery fire from Ft. Drum filling the air, it was easy for me to imagine myself on a mission as I clambered up the rock, seeking to rescue whomever was on the other side.
This enormous rock was immovable and took up so much space in Aunt Dolly’s yard. It was a place providing hours of imaginative fun, and was especially helpful in keeping me close to the house so Mom and Dad could keep an eye on me.
When we dig a bit into the meaning of a rock of refuge, we find words like abode, habitation, and shelter. These are words illustrating the protective cover of a rock of refuge. Perhaps you can recall such a place, where you took cover from weather as you crouched underneath the safety of a rock. Perhaps you can imagine Moses standing in the cleft of a rock as the Lord passed by. Perhaps you can see Jesus praying at Gethsemane, as he knelt upon the rock.
The psalmist shares words of trust amidst the trials of life, reminding us that no matter the anguish, the pain, or the struggles that may come our way, our hope is in the Rock of Refuge, our Redeemer, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Sometimes we can find shelter in a quiet space, as I did this past weekend at Atrium Health Cabarrus in Concord, NC. Looking out the window of my Dad’s ICU room, I saw three stained glass windows across the concrete courtyard, reminding me of the closeness of our Lord as Dad received care and treatment from his medical team. Traveling to and from his room, a stop into the chapel (top photo) provided me a chance to catch my breath, to be restored, and to pray for Dad’s wellbeing. A chapel became a rock of refuge, a strong fortress for me, as I leaned into prayer and placing my cares and concerns at the feet of Jesus.
I offer these strong words of Augustus Toplady, written in 1776 as a reminder of where are hope and trust should be placed:
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure;
save from wrath and make me pure.