Hi everyone. Rob here.
One of my favourite places when I was a child was Grandma’s kitchen. She did all her cooking and baking on a coal range so it was always warm and cosy in there. In there we played games, ate meals, devoured her baking, conversed and just hung out. It was a safe place, a refuge and a haven. I wonder what that place was for you growing up? Did you have one? I hope so. Every child needs a memory of refuge and of peace so they can connect with the peace and the haven God wants to provide for us.
I’ve been thinking about Proverbs 18:10 (you may know the song!).
The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.
God himself wants to be our refuge, our haven, our safe place. In him we are to find sanctuary, validation and our hearts true home. We are invited to dwell within the love of Father, Son and Spirit with full and open hearts. This is seldom our experience however. We seem to gain glimpses of it very now and again but I firmly believe that God wants this to be our everyday reality.
The elephant in the room is that we don’t always trust God. We have suffered pain, sometimes very intense pain; emotional, physical and spiritual. We have felt the cries of our heart go unanswered. We have felt that the Lord has given and then taken away. We have experienced loss, heartache and suffering and we have blamed God for it.
But if God is good, if God is love and if God is our refuge, then other forces must be at work! We’re told that the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). We’re also told that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Paul talks about the powers of this dark world (Ephesians 6:12). As John Eldredge says , we’re part of a love story set in the midst of war.
Jesus tells us explicitly that in this world we will have trouble (John 16:33), but he also says, in the same verse, that it’s in him we have peace. We can take heart because he’s overcome the world. But it’s victory through a cross. Paul says that we can rejoice in our sufferings (Romans 5:3). It’s clear that there is much set against us and suffering in unavoidable. It was unavoidable for Jesus and it’s unavoidable for us. And yet we are also assured that in Christ is peace and joy and hope. He is our refuge. The Father’s arms are wide open. The Spirit leads us and fills us with life. We are asked to trust God because he is the only way through the forces set against us. If we don’t trust God then there is no hope, no joy, no life and no love, that can overcome the thief who wants to steal, kill and destroy.
The power of the powers is no match for the cross of Christ. Their power dies there and we die to every agreement we’ve made with them. Christ’s resurrection shouts to the world that he is the trustworthy one. He is the one who can make his way through the power of death and he can guide us through also. We just have to trust him. He knows the way home. Let’s follow him. The Father’s arms await us. The joy of the Spirit is with us. Suffering will come but despair doesn’t have to. Cynicism doesn’t have to. The peace I knew in Grandma’s kitchen is a glimpse into the kingdom of God where laughter and joy abound. May you glimpse that more and more as you choose to trust the goodness and love of our God.
Grace and peace.