Holding and Held

Thinking of Christ as our anchor, we often picture storms raging. Tossed about in the chaos, we think of clinging to Him. Our hands burn, grasping, struggling, to hold on. But the wonderful truth: as we’re holding, we’re also held. Our anchor is bound inseparably to our soul.

Even when we let go, the anchor’s hold is still strong. We’re still in His grip when we lose our own.

anchor holds

Likewise, as lean into the hard and heavy, forging our way along a difficult path, we’re often reaching out to see if God is there with us.

But He, in fact, goes before us, with us, and behind us.

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” –Deuteronomy 31:8

“For the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” -Isaiah 52:12

If the Lord will never leave us, then indeed we are not alone. We are not forsaken by our anchor or abandoned by our guide along the unknown path. Our light will not go out nor will our protector fail to have the victory in the end.

It’s so easy…so easy. To look upon the goodness and the kindness of the Lord in wonder, and miss that the things He kindly does for us are not dependent on us.

This isn’t an excuse to live flippantly or to believe that the Lord will reward us for taking advantage of His grace. But it certainly is a comfort, and a shift in perspective we often need.

“Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

-2 Timothy 2:11-13

Amy Carmichael once described that when the going was rough, the trouble “was His burden not mine. It was He who was asking me to share it with Him, not I who was asking Him to share it with me.”

Sweet relief.

The nature of our God is compassionate. Loving. Hopeful. Gracious. Merciful. Kind. Stable. Steady.

In all that you and I grasp at and cling to, just trying to hold on, we can know that we will not be abandoned or put to shame. We can be certain that we will never be lost, even when we lose hold.

We are held by one who does not let go, even when we do.

Praise the Lord!

(This is a song I sing along to regularly. Laura Story’s lyrics remind of the truth, comfort me, and bring me to praise. I hope it will you, too!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAAsWj-thsY

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WordoftheWeek: ROCK

“Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken… Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.”

-Psalm 62:2 & 6

What does it mean that Christ is our rock?

  1. That He is a Refuge

Earlier this week, Niki wrote about turning to her rock when she battled cancer. She urged us to continue seeking our rock and His safety as the pressures of life indicate that we need to grow.

Many references to God throughout Scripture include the word rock or synonyms like refuge, hiding place, and fortress. When we speak of Christ as our rock we in part refer to the fact that we are safe with God and that He will protect us.

  1. That He is a Firm Foundation

We are advised in Matthew 7 to build our homes on the rock. Spiritually, physically, and relationally- this is sound advice. Christ as a rock is also Christ as our foundation.  He is a strong, unchanging, and secure foundation. We know when build all things starting with and relying on Him that we don’t need to fear. As the classic hymn says: all other ground is sinking sand.

  1. That He is Unmoving

Have you ever tried to move a big rock? It’s tough. We know that the Lord doesn’t change– that’s what makes us certain that when we seek His safety, counsel, protection, and foundation, the promise is rock solid. He is unmoving and unmovable.

  1. That the Saved are Not Shaken

The verse in Psalms proclaims it best, tying together two important points: He is our rock AND our salvation. When we trust in the rock, we trust in one who is completely reliable.

We are saved by one who is immovable! That’s a safe saved.

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What You’ll Find In a Stronghold

“The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble,

And He knows those who take refuge in Him.”

Nahum 1:7

A refuge, by itself, is a place that offers sanctuary and safety. It is a figurative expression in Scripture describing God as our security. He offers us a place that we can retreat to for peace, quiet, and renewal.

Further, He is our stronghold.

A form of a refuge, a stronghold is a fortress. When we retreat to our stronghold, we go to this one true God:

He Is Battle-Ready

In David’s war days, He and His enemies had strongholds. These fortresses were the places they would all run to when the battle became thick. There, weapons and rations were stashed. Strongholds are battle-ready. When enemies attack, regardless of how ruthlessly, a stronghold is a safe place to go and continue the battle.

Our stronghold, our God, is just as battle-ready. And He is the victory.

He Has the Provisions for a Seige

Holding out in a fortress during battle does not work out so well if the stronghold is empty. We need provisions as we wait out the siege. Sustenance, nourishment, company…hope.

The Lord provides all that we need- even when we’re preserving through a ruthless attack. Even when we’re waiting out hardship.

He Is Our Defense

More than a place, a stronghold was a strategy: a defense. Strong and made with solid material like rock, fortresses are designed to keep trouble out. The strongholds we read about in the Bible, especially those that guarded David, were no exception.

Our stronghold is big enough and strong enough to be a living shield. Though at times oppressed and attacked, those who take refuge in the stronghold their God will be delivered.

He is our strong-hold: the strong one holding us in times of trouble and battle.

“He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.”

Psalm 144:2

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What in Your Life is Ruthless?

The headache that comes back again and again. A chronic illness that knocks you off your feet without regard for where you’re headed or how much pain you’re already in.

The thought in your head that you are not good enough, no matter how hard you’ve tried. A lie, on repeat, that you can’t ever measure up or be worthy of love. Guilt that won’t subside.

The boss that never respects your time or how much has already been put on your plate on a tight deadline. A person who continues to abuse, even when ties have been cut.

What in your life is ruthless?

Some of these are mine. Some belong to my loved ones. Some are yours. There are others, too.

We all face the ruthless, that which is “without pity or compassion; cruel; merciless.”

Whose synonyms are “unrelenting, adamant, cruel.”

Isaiah 25:4 describes how it feels:

“the breath of the ruthless
is like a storm driving against a wall
and like the heat of the desert.”

Isn’t that the truth? That which is ruthlessly disrespectful, uncompassionate, and cruel in our lives feels like a tremendous force against us that we can’t flee from. It bears down on us like heat that cannot be escaped, draining us of our energy and our strength.

In Isaiah’s praise to the Lord, He describes how the Lord is our refuge. He goes on to say, in reference to the ruthless:

“You silence the uproar of foreigners;
as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud,
so the song of the ruthless is stilled
.”

With just a moment of time and a compassionate thought in mind, our Lord makes cloud cover turn down the heat. He silences the storm thrashing us against the wall. He stills the ruthless.

After describing how the ruthless flourish, only to pass away and be found no more, the Lord reiterates in Psalm 37:39-40:

“The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;

he is their stronghold in time of trouble.

The Lord helps them and delivers them;

he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,

because they take refuge in him.”

What a refuge we have in Him! Never needing to hide or to fight a losing battle alone until we are left as empty heaps of nothingness. Endure, endure. Stay fast in the Lord because the wicked will not ultimately win.

The Lord is stronger, safer, and more steadfastly unchanging than any ruthless thing we face in this world.

Such sweet relief we find in the shadow of those unmovable, unshakable wings.

Remember the Gospel. The ruthlessness of sin, even now as it persists. Christ wins.

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