We know that as we journey with God, there will be ups and downs, successes and failures. I love this reading because it recognizes the cyclical nature of our relationship with God. The psalmist knows God as a reliable refuge. I love the detail in the third verse that says that God is a rock of refuge that I can always go to (NIV).
When my older son was a little boy, he would run just a little bit farther ahead of me than I was comfortable with when we were out walking. But when he would see anything that would scare him, especially seagulls, he would come running back to me because he knew that I would keep him safe. He would cling to my legs, and I would wave my arms like a madman to drive away the seagulls that were after his snacks. His fear turned to joyous laughter as I dramatically flailed about long after the seagull threat had passed. I think that is the image that the psalmist is trying to portray here: God is a refuge and fortress who not only provides safety and deliverance from enemies but is also a comforting, loving presence who turns fear into joy.
No matter how many times my son took his french fries and walked ahead of me instead of holding my hand, he knew that he could run to me, and that he (and his french fries) would be saved from hungry seagulls. Just so, we as children of God are always welcome to run to God in times of trouble on our journey. The psalmist confesses our faith for us: From the beginning of our journey together, God has been our refuge and fortress, ready for us to continually come home to the rock of life.
God, when the journey is difficult, remind us that we are always welcome to find safety in you. Amen.
The readings in Jeremiah and Psalm 71 are repeated in a pair from earlier in the year (January 24–30). They describe the authors’ confidence that God has had plans for their lives since even before they were born. God similarly knows each one of us and has a calling on our lives. The reading in Hebrews gives us confidence in the permanence of the kingdom of God, to which we have access through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We are not to take this lightly; we should worship God with due respect. In a synagogue on the sabbath, Jesus teaches a lesson about mercy. When he encounters a woman in need, he places her need above religious regulations. If religious traditions trump mercy, then our priorities are out of alignment.
Read Jeremiah 1:4-10. How can you trust God to empower you to follow God’s call? How can you encourage others to live into their calling?
Read Psalm 71:1-6. How can you continually praise God as your refuge?
Read Hebrews 12:18-29. How do you discern what is required of you in praising God in the new covenant?
Read Luke 13:10-17. How do you observe the sabbath now? What sabbath practice might you start that puts God’s reign into action?
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