June 30, 2015
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 30 June 2015
"A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" is a majestic hymn that vigorously proclaims the all-sufficient refuge of God to his people in our weakest moments. “Amid the flood” with “mortal ills prevailing,” the hymn celebrates that “God’s truth abideth still” because “His kingdom is forever.” The biblical basis for the hymn is Psalm 46, which also proclaims the refuge and solace in the Lord God in the midst of difficult times. Perhaps the most popular verse of Psalm 46 is verse 10:
“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
I find that Psalm 46:10 is one of those verses in Scripture that I need to remember more than others. My disposition is not lacking in motivation, and thus to “cease striving” (“be still,” NIV) does not come naturally to me. When I am encountering challenges or setbacks, my initial inclination is determination to solve the problem. My being is not naturally prone for stillness. I confess that stress occupies my life more often that it should, which is why the command for stillness in the knowledge that the Lord is God – and I am not – is so absolutely necessary.
The words “cease striving” are not a contemplative call for reflection; rather, to “be still” means to surrender our busyness or to abandon our anxiety in the midst of a plethora of activities. We are to acknowledge that the Lord is God, and He is in control of our times and sovereign over our lives. To “cease striving” is not a mere command; it is more an invitation from God because He knows our ways. We hurry: often without stillness, attempting to solve all life’s problems, when we are invited to reside and rest in God’s strength.
Another remarkable invitation is found in Psalm 62:8, which exhorts God’s people to “trust in Him at all times” and to outpour our hearts to Him because our God “is a refuge for us.” The verb translated “outpour” is a word for emptying liquid from a container. For example, Moses was told to take water from the Nile River and outpour it upon the dry ground (Exod 4:9). When used as a metaphor in reference to our relationship with God, the invitation to outpour our hearts suggests emptying ourselves in prayer. In other words, we share our joys and sorrows, every praise and concern, including all our confidences and apprehensions.
My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us [Ps 62:5-8].
Psalm 62 begins with David quietly waiting before the Lord (his “soul waits in silence”), confident in God’s salvation and protection. David’s trust is in God, who alone is his “rock,” “salvation,” and stronghold;” therefore, he will “not be greatly shaken” (v. 2). Amidst the opposition and treachery of his enemies, David trusts God as his only refuge. God invites his people to avoid fretting; rather, we are to quiet our soul before Him.
God is our refuge; not only in the sense that He is our stronghold, but also in that we can outpour our hearts to Him. God’s grace allows us to share with Him what we might never disclose to someone else. God’s love grants us the privilege to bear our souls to Him so that He can transform all that we are. How easy for Christians to become anxious when circumstances and difficulties arise, which cause our hearts to faint within us.
Let the Word of God encourage you to outpour your heart to the Lord God. Confess everything to God: all your anxieties, your failures, your sins, and your sorrows. Let us also share our aspirations, our devotions, our hopes, and our joys. Keep your inner being fixated upon God, so that He is able to bring tranquility. Praise the Lord of lords and King of kings – who rules and overrules all – and invites his people to share everything with Him.
Pastor to Georgia's Leaders,
Ron J. Bigalke, Ph.D.
Capitol Commission Georgia