O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8 (NASB)
When God highlights something to me that I have been blithely skipping over for 48 years I know he wants me to dig deeper. In this case it was the phrase “takes refuge” that stopped me. To “take refuge” implies action, something I do. I am beginning to see that I have been standing outside the refuge in the malevolent, pummeling storm holding my flimsy umbrella, recognizing correctly that there is a refuge, understanding and believing in the refuge, even memorizing all the verses about the refuge. But, most of the time, not actually doing the effort to “take refuge” – get under His wings, crawl up on His lap. So, my head knowledge, or even my faith in the refuge, does me no good.
The Hebrew word translated “takes refuge” above is chacah. It means to seek refuge, flee for protection, to put trust in God, confide or hope in God. A related word is batah – to trust in, rely on, take refuge in. A commentator notes that chacah “is probably to be distinguished from batah ‘rely on,’ ‘take refuge in’ as denoting more precipitate action.” [emphasis mine]i
To do something precipitately is to do it in a way that is “sudden and done without thinking” (Cambridge Dictionary). This definition reminds me of kids jumping into the parents’ bed at a house-shaking crack of thunder. It is done without thinking because in their subconscious level that is where safety and security is; where their trust is.
Is trusting in the Lord something we do “without thinking” almost by instinct? Do we jump into his arms when the earth shakes and the storm roars? God is showing me that this only happens when we have made putting our trust in him a long discipline, so that it has become a habit. We have tasted and seen his goodness many times, over and over without fail. The struggle between God and us is over. We have surrendered to Him and experienced his love. Deep down below the level of thinking and logic and reasons we know – we know Him.
Since God showed me this, I have started practicing this taking refuge action against my almost constant fear and regret and self-condemnation and complaining against God. It takes determined effort and is hard, like stopping a train and reversing the direction. But it is making a huge difference. What does that look like?
When I find myself floundering, when a condemning thought comes into my mind, I remember the Cross of Jesus Christ and make the decision and effort to take refuge in his Word.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Romans 10:11
When fear oppresses me, I cling to the promise.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. Psalm 56:3
When, in my rebellious self-life, I start with the complaints, even resentment, against God, I look around for something to be grateful for. I offer up a sacrifice of praise.
I will sacrifice a thank-offering to you and call on the name of the LORD. Psalm 116:17
Taking refuge, trusting in God, is crucial in these times we are in, when philosophers and politicians and journalists and marketers clamor for my trust. But it must come from beyond mere head knowledge – I must get out from under my leaky umbrella. My trust in Him must become part of my very being, like breathing. Like the pumping of my heart. I must “do” taking refuge, until I abide there, always leaning against his chest, feeling his sweet breath on the top of my head, listening to the eternal, unstoppable, vehement, passionate, fierce, zealous beating of his mighty heart.
Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah. Psalm 61:5 (NASB)
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. Psalm 57:1
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes. Psalm 118:8-9
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