If I ask you to picture a rock, what sketch does your imagination draw? A pebble? A stone? A boulder?
During my most recent trip to Israel, while climbing ein gedi and heading toward the waterfalls, I spotted a fairly nice-sized rock I'd not noticed before. It shot like an arrow in front of a cave and between the crags and beneath a cliff. "I wonder how long that thing has been standing like that?" I said.
Miriam Feinberg Vamosh - my friend and the coauthor of reflections of god's holy land - stepped around from behind me. "Perhaps hundreds of years. Maybe thousands. Who knows?"
"One thing's for sure," fellow traveler sharon decker pointed out. "It's not going anywhere."
David and The Rock
Ein Gedi was the hiding place of David when he was on the run from King Saul. It's here, we can estimate, David wrote a great number of the psalms we hold dear, especially during our most difficult hours. And when he penned, "My God is my rock in whom I take refuge" (see 2 Samuel 2:1 and Psalms 18:1), he may have been reflecting back on the massive chunks of earth around which he'd lived for so long.
Specifically, David said these things of God (within a few of the verses in these chapters): God is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
God is. Not was, not will be. Is.
Notice, too, that these words - rock, fortress, deliverer, refuge, shield, horn, and stronghold - are all words from a fighting man. A man of war. Yet, a man who knew that without God, he was powerless.
Present Day Distress
We are warriors, too, you know. If you are where God desires you to be, every morning when you wake, the demons quiver. "Oh no," they whisper and moan. "What will this mighty saint of God do today?"
Too often, however, we forget this. The world and all its cares catch us unaware. Financial ruin is either about to overtake us or has swallowed us. We become physically sick and are forced under the covers of our bed or to a hospital room. Or perhaps a loved-one has been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, which then becomes a path we trod with them. Maybe our children have becomes beings from another planet.
We blink and there is more on our plate than we can handle.
It all adds up.
A few weeks ago, my mother and I were on a working vacation (I was working, she was on vacation). On Sunday evening (or was it Monday?), after my head rested upon my pillow, I offered a silent prayer to God. "I'm not ‘feeling you' like I usually do," I said. "Draw me to your throne, Father. Draw me …"
I fell into quiet slumber with those words on my lips. "Draw me…"
Not three days later, I sprawled on the bathroom floor with the near-lifeless form of my mother in my arms. I screamed at God to help me. To help us. I spoke against the powers of darkness as I begged Mother - the most spiritually beautiful woman I've had the honor to know - not to leave me. Not yet.
A week and a half later - after a long week in NTICU at mission hospital - I sat next to my brother as Mother's casket was lowered into the ground. Amazingly, in that time as God called His sweet child home to be with Him, I felt His holy presence as I'd never quiet sensed it before. In spite of the trauma. In spite of the question "why." I hadn't expected this sudden turn in my life … hadn't seen the battlefield looming in the distance. But one thing I knew for sure: it had come as no surprise to God. My very present help in time of need.
Made Me Glad
In this time of crushing heartache, there was gladness. It's hard to explain, really. For most of you reading this, I probably don't have to. You have been or are in a similar desert. But as we climb toward the waterfalls, if we slip into a cave - the secret place of the Most High (Psalms 91:1) - and allow the Rock to stand guard over us, we are made glad.
The opening lines to Psalms 92:1 are direction for the singer. A psalm (song) for the Sabbath Day.
The Sabbath … the day of rest. From all our work. All our worries. From the fight.
Then, in verse four, the psalmist writes: For you have made me glad …I will sing for joy …
Oh, read it again.
God is …
But that takes commitment, doesn't it? Crawling into the cave behind the rock says, "I take God at His word; I trust I'm not pushing myself into a corner, but rather taking refuge."
Even resting in God and singing for joy is only by our sheer will to yield to the work and power of the Holy Spirit.
Live as servants of God, Peter wrote (1 Peter 1:16).
made me glad, best known as sung by hillsong, holds lyrics taken from a number of biblical psalms, including Psalms 73:1. The music resonates with a sense of spiritual triumph. Overcoming life's obstacles, not by our fight, but by God's power.
God's job is to conquer our enemies.
Ours is to sing His praises.
And so, when you do - and especially the next time you sing this timeless modern hymn - cast everything that burdens and weakens you at the army boots of God. He will draw His sword as you draw yours. He will make you glad.
Eva Marie Everson is the author of a number of fiction and nonfiction works, including the recently released This Fine Life (Baker/Revell) and Reflections of God's Holy Land; A Personal Journey Through Israel (Thomas Nelson). For more information about Eva Marie and for speaking information, go to www.EvaMarieEverson.com.
Photo credit: ©2009, Eva Marie Everson. Taken in Ein Gedi, Israel
Publication date: June 26, 2010