I was privileged to be the guest speaker at a service at Highland Trail Retirement Community in Broomfield, Colorado a few weeks ago. I wanted to share the sermon I wrote for that setting here.
God Our Refuge
Thunderstorms were common in Indiana where I spent much of my childhood. What was also common then were tornados. Blaring sirens would ring out, disturbing a peaceful dinner or interrupting a night’s sleep. My family would run to the church across the lawn and hid in the basement. My grandpa, the pastor of the church, had his study in the basement. There, surrounded by his books, his over-stuff leather chair, and massive desk, I would curl up next to him and wait out the storm. I listened to my grandpa talk as we huddled together. Sometimes, we would read his books. Sometimes, he would review his sermon notes for the coming Sunday. But in his presence, I no longer feared the sirens or the wind or the cracks of lightning.
Wars, turmoil, grief, sickness—all threaten to overwhelm us. Their presence invades our hearts and minds, blaring out warning sirens. We find ourselves on high alert as we navigate life. Peace is drowned. Yet, with God, the turmoil around us cannot touch our souls. We find refuge in Him. We find quiet surrounded by His peace and His comfort.
I’ve been reading the books of 1 & 2 Samuel lately and the stories of Israel’s most beloved king, David. David was called the “man after God’s own heart”, but he had no lack of trouble. David was haunted by the prior king, Saul, who was jealous of David’s anointing of God to be king. Saul attempted to murder David on several occasions. David had to escape to an enemy country, where he had to make himself look insane to that king in order to avoid being killed. When David finally became king, his troubles were still not over as his sons plotted against him.
But during these times, David wrote many of the Psalms we have come to know by heart and love. David found sanctuary in God.
We can come to Him, even if the storm is of our own making.
We can come to Him, even as the storm is out of our control.
We can come to Him in every season of life. During good times, bad times, and run-of-the-mill times. David already had practiced going to God when he was a shepherd in Israel. Before he was king, when life was simpler, he developed a relationship with God. Then, when hard times pressed him, the fruit of that relationship bloomed into his psalms, prayers, and loyal love for God.
We can turn our focus and our gaze back to God, no matter what assails us. We look to His purpose. To His plan for our good. Much like my attention turned to my grandfather so long ago while tornados swirled above us.
I wanted to share three ways we can practice finding our refuge in God.
- Take time for quiet reflection each day. Find a place where it is just you and God. Open your heart to Him, and take time to listen to Him speak.
- Practice gratitude. Write down three to five things every day for which you are grateful.
- When news hits you, take it immediately to God the Father in prayer. Lift your hands and say, “I know that You have this in Your hands.”
Let me close with a segment from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s sermon on Psalm 62. Bonhoeffer was a German minister in the 1930’s and 40’s. He spoke out against Hitler and the Third Reich, and ultimately, he was put to death for it.
“What then should we do to experience this rest of our soul in God? I can give you only a brief indication of some of the things we must do. There is not one of us who lives so hectic a life that he cannot spare ten minutes a day – morning or evening—letting himself be still and quieting all around him. Let eternity alone be in your thoughts and in its light question yourself. It can help if there is a verse from the Bible at hand, but best of all, let the mind go free and the soul find its way into the Father’s house, returning home to find rest. If anyone works at this, day by day, there will be golden fruits of those times.”
Golden fruits meaning the fruit of finding refuge in God is peace in chaos, joy in trouble, and hope in hopeless situations. As Paul, a writer of the New Testament, would later pen, “We fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
May we, this week, find refuge in God most High. May we experience His presence in our every day lives. May we know the peace of God in the midst of turbulent circumstances. May you, my brothers and sisters, have grace—the undeserved favor of God—poured out on your hearts, your minds, and your lives this week. Amen and Amen.