In life’s crises, AKA “life-and-death issues,” the truth of God’s Word most plainly stands out. How? Both saints (believers in Jesus Christ, Son of God) and non-saints seem to call out, “God!” Even if people profess not to believe, the event of being most backed into a corner by life’s circumstances, either in the unmistakable bad choices we make or being sinned against by others, the first thing we tend to do is to cry out to a higher power, either reverently or irreverently.

We find many call-outs to God in the Psalms. Psalm 16:1 (ESV) says, “…Preserve me, O God, for in You I take refuge.” Psalm 43:1 says, “Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!” Psalm 63:1 says, “A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, You are my God; earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 64:1 says, “…Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint; preserve my life from dread of the enemy.” It is not coincidental that many of these Psalms start with verse #1 call-outs and end with exclamation points.

The Psalms also well describe the troubles of the world. Psalm 69:1 says, “…Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck.” Psalm 69:5 says, “O God, You know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from You.” Psalm 70:5 says, “But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!”

It is saints who know they belong to God, whom God’s Name is written upon. The sufferings of saints are not omens of the end of their world, but rather are a context to nudge true hope to life and bring it to fulfillment. Saints are refugees fleeing from a fallen world who find refuge in the Lord. Saints are those displaced, vulnerable, degraded, yet affirmed in God’s glory, strength and hope. Dependent on the Savior for the warmth and comfort of eternal life in Him, saints are freed from the slavery of self-sufficiency and right of ownership.

We see in Scripture that being “poor in spirit” is a means to blessedness. Matthew 5:3 gives us this beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Understand, this doesn’t mean poor as in destitute, impoverished, or empty, but rather “poor in spirit” means perpetually conscious of the urgent need for assistance that only God generously and freely promises when we call on Him.

Isaiah 28:16 says, Therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am the One Who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’ ” How firm a foundation we have in Christ our Refuge.

The Hymn “How Firm a Foundation” includes this verse: “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in God’s excellent Word! What more can be said than to you God hath said, to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?” The hymn teaches us to need God’s help and to see suffering as a route He uses to get us there. As refugees, we have fled to the Source of Mercy and have found Mercy. We have fled to the Source of Grace and have found Grace. We have fled to the Source of Truth and have found Truth.

At last, refuge.

Tower of Strength

Proverbs 18:10 (ESV) says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” Psalms 61:3 says, “For You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.” The photo shows the top of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla, NC. To me it is a symbol of security and protection. A symbol that reminds me of my need in troubled waters for genuine defense and guidance…

I compare running away from God’s Truth to opposing the true Tower of Strength, the True Lighthouse. Like many, I default to the “quick fixes” to meet the challenges of life, yet as I’m running away from Jesus the True Tower, I’m really portraying a compulsion to delusion. I spend way too much head space and time relying upon things that cannot possibly promise refuge, safety, defense, or guidance.

One of my favorite reliances is upon my car – a symbol of freedom and mobility… Well, until the car doesn’t work or I am injured and can’t even get in or out of the car. Almost the worst thing is not being able to move or go anywhere (so I think). Although the gift of mobility should never be taken for granted, it is not the worst thing. The very worst thing of all is turning away from Jesus Christ’s Lordship over my life when He is the only Provider of true freedom that can be found anywhere; He is the only Tower of Strength.

Another thought from my box of “tower-of-weakness ideas.” I’d like to think that Vitamin D will protect me from viruses like Covid. The vitamin certainly bolsters the immune system, but it is definitely not the critical Tower of Strength I need for the ultimate defense of my life, both physical and eternal. “Silver bullets” that are able to eradicate what is fallen in Creation simply don’t exist… So, why do I try to think so?

My personal “go-to’s” among my “tower-of-weakness ideas” are my own abilities to get work done and achieve a comfortable life, using my own intellect to keep my environment ordered, or using an array of “mother’s-little-helpers” to cope with the stresses of life. I can be pretty sure that I am fully deluded when I rely upon these so-called resources. Having lost complete sight of the True Tower Jesus Christ, I must learn to recognize the competition for my heart and mind that is really going on. The next coffee fix, the next new fad vitamin, the next sugar fix, the next relationship, the next exercise regimen, the next purchase… These are not saviors.

In the collection of prayers from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, in the chapter on “Reliance,” there’s a quote I love that goes like this, “but teach me that I cannot satisfy thy law, that this effort [my fill-in-the-blank: to fulfill my image of good wife, good mother, good daughter, good friend] is a resting in my righteousness, that only Christ’s righteousness, ready made, already finished, is fit for that purpose…”

I must begin again and ask what I am trusting? Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” The competition is always present. Yet the truth is also near, that Jesus Christ is the sufficient Tower of Strength. That He is my best thought, never an afterthought. God’s plan to make us fruitful, mature us, and transforms us happens daily in the context of relationship with Him rather than any of the extraneous things we try to rely upon. Our ever deepening relationship with Jesus Christ and increasing knowing of Him as our true Tower – these form the basis of real defense, guidance, safety, security, and freedom. Backburner faith that makes self-reliance a mixture of occasional reliance on Him for forgiveness and intermittent prayers for sick and hurting friends and family, is simply ineffectual faith.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient…” In the constant tug of war in life, the battle for lordship continues on. Whenever I look to the next thing to fulfill some need, I must learn to stop and realize that Jesus is the supreme and sufficient One, and then turn my attention, my devotion, my invitation to Him – my Strong Tower, my defense, my safety, my guide, my security, my protection. The true Savior.