The Psalmist described arriving at a safe house. He said God was a safe house, a sanctuary. He further said that when you arrive, you relax. You relax like you are at home. You feel safe. You feel peace. You are never sorry, NEVER SORRY that you knocked at His door, that you approached Him. You realize that “without (God), nothing makes sense” (Psalm 18:24 MSG). But with God you have all you need.
To be able to relax is a good feeling. Too often people are tense because of stressful situations or environments. People are worried about bills, dealing with family issues, trying to age slowly. People are always on guard, worried, looking over their shoulder. If you turn on the television or walk through any shopping center or mall, you will find many methods advertised for peace and relaxation. Drink this tea. Use this machine. Try this lotion. Get this organizer. Buy this home security system. But we can do all these things and more and yet still not relax.
The Psalmist understood that when you approach God, who already has His arms stretched towards you, it is then that you encounter the peace—the Prince of Peace. And when you encounter God and you accept Him into your life, you can kick off your shoes (no pun intended) and relax. I’m not saying life won’t be filled with trials and struggles, but that you’ll feel a peace you never felt before in life. As the Psalmist said, “You’re never sorry you knocked.”
“God’s a safe-house for the battered,
a sanctuary during bad times.
The moment you arrive, you relax;
you’re never sorry you knocked.”
-Psalm 9:9-10 [MSG]
I was at my desk calling out to my daughter. It was very loud in the next room but I heard a response. I responded only to hear laughter. My son was pretending to be my daughter. The noise level made it hard to hear and it was not so easy to detect what was happening. He found it hilarious. I told him to turn down the television.
We have had much advancement in technology to make it easier to connect with people. The downfall of technology is the fact that there is a lot of noise. Nearly everywhere you go you will find noise. If you are at the supermarket, you’ll hear the beeps from the cash registers. You will hear the self checkout area’s robotic register voices conversing with customers. You will hear music sometimes interrupted by announcements over the PA system. You will hear customers catching up in the middle of an aisle while others have hour long conversations on their cell phone as slowly making their way through the store. You will hear the sound of boxes being opened to restock shelves and the rattling of shopping carts. This is just one example.
Today, look around and see where you can turn down some noise in your life. It is important to have some quiet time to spend with God—time with no distractions so you can hear properly. If you do not have that time, consider a way to accomplish this quiet time today.
“Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” – Matthew 14:22-23 [ESV]
We all seem to be in overdrive trying to rush through life. This morning I noticed something I see every day while taking my daily walks. The one street I walk on has a big dip which requires people to drive slowly or they will hit the underside of their car on the road. People that are unfamiliar with the street and do not slow down and pay attention to what is going on around them will hit bottom. Without fail, every morning or evening walk I will hear the all too familiar sound of the underside of a car making contact with the road. Sometimes I am even unfortunate to see the facial expressions the driver makes as they realise what has been done.
We are all guilty of doing this with our lives at some time or another. In a world that teaches us to be fast and to pile in as much as possible to our schedule, we rush. We think everything must be in a hurry. We do not have time to relax with family at dinner so we make a “quick and easy” meal or get some “fast food.” We listen to books in the car because we do not have a second to actually sit and read. We send text messages because we have no time to truly speak to another person.
What is worse is that we rush and make decisions without waiting for the Holy Spirit to illuminate us about the decision. We take it to God in prayer and then we do not like waiting for the answer. We pick and move along. We also get so caught up on what is going on later today, that we do not slow ourselves down to enjoy the right now. There is so much going on around us but we run the race as if we are wearing horse blinders, not able to take our eyes off what might not even happen on later today.
God did not create us to run around like crazy people in a world full of nuts. He wants so very much for you to have peace and happiness in life. If you are stressed out, overwhelmed, bogged down with so much on your plate, perhaps today is the day to take a deep breath, evaluate what is a priority and what is not, and have some “me and God time.” There is nothing so peaceful than some time with God. Whether you are reading His Word, worshiping Him, or simply resting in Him, you will find that He provides a comfort and a peace you cannot achieve alone. You will find that life can be so much better if you only slow down.
“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
– Psalm 23 [NASB]
At times we slip up and end up having to face the music. I would say it is usually not fun; however, it is a part of life. When you make a mistake, make the wrong decision, go against the rules, etc., there are consequences. This morning my daughter didn’t want to school, because she knew she would have to face the consequences of forgetting her homework at school. She understood she deserved the punishment for missing her homework, but she didn’t want to face the hardship of the punishment.
I have taken notice to a lot of parents who try to keep their children from punishment and discipline. I use the word “discipline” also because punishment is given to those for justice of wrongdoing, but discipline is training that will help correct and perfect a person. I have heard a parent say, “Well I feel bad for him.” It is okay to empathize about the situation, because we have all had to undergo consequences; however, we cannot try to teach them to avoid the consequences. We cannot tell them ways to get around facing the music.
In the Bible, we have a lot of promises of blessing and of love. We can read some verses standing alone and feel like we are basking in the love of the Father and the world is ours. But if the Bible is read closely, there is another side that people like to leave out of the equation. There is punishment and discipline in life. There are consequences. Our consequence for sin is separation from God. We have redemption through the blood of Christ; however, it doesn’t give us a free pass to go on sinning, nor does it change the fact that there are consequences for our actions. We are not perfect either, and so we need discipline to help make us a better person.
Today, maybe you have some consequences that you need to face for your actions. Perhaps you have been putting off being honest because you do not want to face what comes next. Or maybe you are a parent and you try to shield your child from facing punishment. Please know that if you “protect” your child from punishment, then you are saying that their actions are okay. You are teaching the child that they do not deserve the punishment.
My daughter went to school today without her homework. She will be stuck serving time instead of enjoying recess. It will help her to understand that she needs to remember to do her homework. We all make mistakes and misjudgments; we all face the consequences. Nonetheless, if you are honest about your shortcomings and you face the music, you experience personal growth and you become a better person. You may not see it at first, but understand that God loves you and He wants the very best for you.
“For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
– Hebrews 12:10-11 [NASB]
I have told so many people that I have an inability to relax. I always try to keep myself busy, partly because I like to be productive, and partly because I really never learned how to relax. Even so, I see relaxation as a sleeping child or a cute, little puppy curled up in a ball. In my eyes, relaxation is peace.
In John 12, Mary anoints Jesus. But if we look only at the anointing, we can miss something that barely sticks out in the text. Verse 2 states, “So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him” (NASB). Reclining is something one does when relaxing. Some of us sit in a reclining chair and put our feet up. I imagine sitting by the ocean reclining or reclining in a hammock. How peaceful?
At this point in Lazarus’ life, why was he reclining? Yes he was dead not so long ago, and yet brought back to life. But now he had people seeking his life. The chief priests were planning how to have him killed (verse 10). Would you be reclining? I would probably be trying to figure out how to make a fast getaway via whatever mode of transportation was fastest.
Perhaps Lazarus was reclining because he was at peace. He saw first hand the power of God. He was as low as death, and then as high as resurrected. He also knew he had a friend in Jesus. As believers of Christ, we have a friend in Jesus. Although our situation and pressures may be different, we have the ability to recline at the table with Christ. Don’t forget to recline with Christ.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7 [NASB]