Take time to read the entirety of Psalm 11:1-7 and then come back and read the following verse.
In the Lord I take refuge.
How then can you say to my soul,
“Flee like a bird to your mountain…”
– Psalm 11:1
Reading this far into the Psalms, you will have detected that they are a really honest collection of thoughts on God, life, faith, politics, suffering, joy and pretty much everything else. I love that there is space in the Scripture for so much honesty and even the feeling of human subjectivity and reflection. It’s part of the reason that I trust the Bible so much.
David declared with faith that he wouldn’t flee but instead would take refuge in the nature and goodness of God.
In Psalm 11, we travel back in time a little bit, to when David was still stationed in King Saul’s court. His boss, friend and mentor, Saul, was starting to become a little, let’s call it, ‘unstable,’ and David’s life was seriously at risk. David’s friends encouraged him to flee from danger like a timid little bird, but David refused, declaring with faith that he wouldn’t flee but instead would take refuge in the nature and goodness of God. It is as if David was saying, ‘all I have is the truth of who God is, and that’s enough.’ Incidentally, it wasn’t always enough for David, who flees in the end — but that gives me a strange hope as well, because even this man, who is so esteemed in the Scripture and so loved by God, has moments of faithlessness and fear.
This Psalm, though, reminded me of Peter’s response to Jesus in John chapter 6. Jesus had been saying some pretty tough stuff and was ensuring that his followers knew that he was clearly claiming to be God and not just a good teacher. He was also telling them that they would suffer as he would suffer. Life wasn’t going to be easy. This teaching was too difficult for many to accept, so many turned away. When Jesus asked Peter what he thought, he said: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” – John 6:68-69
There are going to be many seasons of doubt in your life. There will be times of tremendous trial, and eras of strong temptation. Will you run away in fear to whatever feels comfortable, or will you, like Peter and David, be able to stand knowing that who God is, is enough?
We have so many choices daily between faith and fear.
So many temptations to choose comfort over God.
So many opportunities to turn away.
To whom shall you go?
“In the Lord I take refuge.”
Singing As We Plant
Church-planter – there are so many places for us to take refuge.
On the shelves of our comfort options are many escapes that look as inviting and as safe as that mountain. They are the same options that are on the shelves of the people in our plant and the people our plant is trying to reach. Our society in the West stocks those shelves like this: food, drink, sex, entertainment, addictions, social media, fitness, sport, psychotherapy. Our societies have versions of these, and add in ancestors, witch-doctors, charms.
What we notice about some of these things is that they are fine in their rightful place. But they are not ultimate places of refuge. When we elevate them to the ultimate place, we have given them the place of God, and they need to be unmasked then as demons on a level with animistic spirituality.
Planters, we must practice the art, or the spiritual discipline, of consciously taking refuge in the Lord.
We must practice the art, or the spiritual discipline, of consciously taking refuge in the Lord. Which, in the light of the New Testament, means asking how the incarnation, teaching, death, life, ascension, reign and return of Jesus relate to our current life situation and trusting that this gospel is the answer. To the extent that we practice doing this, our people and our churches will breathe an air of God-saturated grace and comfort.
Father God, I have no one else to turn to, but you. I confess that there are many days that your work in the world and in my life doesn’t make sense, but I know that you are faithful and true. Teach me to trust you more. Teach me to take refuge against the storms of life in you. In your Son’s beautiful name I pray.