Rev. Jeff Patnaude
The Church's Safe Space
“I love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer. My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.” (Psalm 18:1-3)
These are shaky times. Everyone seems to be confused and bewildered, wondering what is going on and what may happen in the future. Everyone seems to be in some degree of consternation, not being able to understand why people are acting the way they are and saying the things they say. Confusion reigns over even basic facts, like biology, and young people despair over their futures. No one seems to have any real answers. It’s like an earthquake is shaking our whole culture.
In such a time, the Lord is a rock. He is a safe place to stand. When every moral question is grey. When the only thing we know for sure is that nothing is for sure, there are no universal truths except that everyone can make up their own truth, in such a time as this, God’s truth is the rock on which we can stand. We may look around and see far fewer people standing on that rock today. But that doesn’t matter. It is still solid ground. Those who stand upon it will not be shaken. Others may ridicule and laugh, even as they sway back and forth and slowly sink, that we would choose to stand on such an ancient, old-fashioned stone. But we stand firm while they fall to the ground, chiding us as if standing upright is a sin and rejecting with a scoff our invitation to them to come, stand on the rock with us, for there is a place made for them on it. Let’s stand then, pointing out the shaky ground all around, and inviting those who stumble and fall to come to the true rock and stand safely.
When a flood of trouble engulfs a culture, how can we keep from being swept up and carried along? When we remember who we serve, that our God is a fortress, a stronghold, that He is able to deliver out of trouble and surround us and keep us safe from the enemy, then we will stand firm like a mighty oak with deep roots in the rushing waters. The walls of truth and the parapets of scripture stand on the rock of Ages. Inside them we live our lives, still reaping the fruit that comes from obedience to Him and real love for those around us. If the fires of hatred burn around us, if a tsunami of despair crashes through the land, we will not fear, the mighty fortress of Christ will keep the fires out of our hearts and the waters will break on the Firm Foundation. The walls of truth will keep us safe from the churning storm and the parapets of scripture will lift us high above the raging fires of our culture’s fit of resentment.
Don’t despair with them, beloved of the Lord, but stand on the rock. Call upon the Lord and make firm your trust and hope in Him. Do not let resentment, hatred or despair take root in your heart, but focus your thoughts on Him and be filled with joy. He is the everlasting God. He is the horn of our salvation. No trouble can come but that He allows it and no power can overwhelm those whom He causes to stand. For when things are good, we begin to believe that we can rely on ourselves; when things in our culture really start to go wrong though, then we come to understand how much we need the Lord. We need His wisdom, His power, His truth, and the joy and peace that comes from His love for us. We come to realize that there is wisdom in the scripture that is beyond the way that seems right to us, as if God can see much further down the road than we can and has told us to avoid the wide easy way and take the bumpy narrow path because He can see which one leads to destruction and which one will get us safely home. Will we scoff at His directions as so many do today? Or will we listen? If we listen and obey, we will find ourselves on solid ground, even while the whole world sinks. Let’s stand then, with outstretched arms, inviting the whole world to abandon their sinking ground and join us on the Rock of Ages.