A Safe Refuge

Chaplain Ron Suarez, MDiv, CTCA/Southwestern Regional Medical Center

A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? - Psalm 27:1

Strongholds and places of refuge have always been important, even in today's world. When we're outside our country, our nation's embassies serve as places of refuge, especially in a time of war. Even though you're surrounded by your enemies who want to kill you, they can't get to you when you seek refuge in your nation's embassy.

The home also serves as an important place of refuge in our lives. Everyone looks forward to a place of refuge were they can relax after a hard day's work. Home is, or at least should be, a place where you don't always have to be worried about protecting yourself, where you don't have to act the way other people want you act, and where you can just be yourself. Home is also, hopefully, a place where you and your family are all on the same side, fighting against the forces that would tear you all apart.

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple. For He will hide me in His shelter in the day of trouble; He will conceal me under the cover of His tent; He will lift me high upon a rock. Psalm 27:4-5

God can also be your refuge from a hostile world that seeks to destroy you ... and He is the best of all.

David tells us in this Psalm that God is our refuge when illness, death, and/or evil people come to steal all we love and hold precious. He is our strong tower of justice when evil people plot to destroy us, and nobody seems to be able to do anything about it. God is also our only home in a dry land full of toil and hardship. He is our stronghold and shelter from the howling wind of pain, suffering, and loss that threaten and/or actually touch us. When everyone has abandoned us and there seems like no hope, there is the One who will never leave us.

It may be that your home life is a wreck, so it seems more like a war zone than a refuge. Even there, God can be your refuge. It may be that you have been abandoned by your spouse or maybe your parent never gave you the love you required. God can be your refuge even there.

God offers a refuge in this life, and the next, that can never be stolen from us. The Bible states that we dwell in everlasting, direct access to God when we dwell in that refuge, and the plots of God's enemies will be cast down. Perhaps God prevents their plans, so they can't carry them out against us, or it may be that God allows them to carry out their evil but then turns it around so that what they did actually helps us more than it hurts us. No matter what may come our way, God promises that the joy of His presence will be our refuge.

Though God offers this refuge to everyone freely, not everyone is allowed into God’s refuge. In everyday life, for instance, you can't just stroll into a foreign embassy and expect the people in charge to cater to your every need. A person seeking refuge in a foreign embassy must renounce his or her native country and promise allegiance to the adopted country. The person in charge of the embassy must make certain that whoever he allows in is serious about seeking asylum and isn't the enemy, plotting harm to the embassy or the country. Would you offer your house as a place of refuge to an enemy? Probably not, and in some cases and circumstances, walking into an embassy or someone's home unannounced might just get that person killed.

Similarly, the only way we can gain permission to enter God's refuge is if He can somehow overlook our sin. Our sin brands us as traitors to the perfect rule God is establishing on earth and says, louder than our words, that we basically want no part of heaven -- we want our own version of heaven, life our way. The sentence in most countries for betraying the country is death. That puts us in a dilemma -- we want God's permission to enter His refuge, but we deserve death and eternal separation from God for our sin. Consequently, we have to seek the right means of getting into God's refuge.

You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, "Your face, LORD, do I seek." Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Psalm 27:8, 11

To obtain God's refuge, we must:
• cast ourselves on God’s mercy to enter into His refuge by seeking His face (8),
• trust that Christ took the punishment on Himself that we deserve and ask Him to save us (9),
• obey Him in whatever He commands (11), and yield our lives to the will of God ... lead us. (11)

Those who seek God and surrender to His terms will receive God's refuge in this life, and the next ... a refuge that can never be stolen. The Bible states that when we dwell in that refuge, we have direct access to God and gaze on His beauty, a beauty so great that we will behold him for all eternity and never get tired at beholding Him (4).

No matter what may come your way, God is the refuge, the stronghold, the shelter you can trust which will enable you to live triumphantly and peacefully through the trouble of this world.

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