"Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge." ~Psalm 16:1
I've been praying the psalms with a group of friends for the past several months and it has been such a joy and delight! One thing I have noticed during that time is how often these prayers refer to God as our refuge. It is a funny thing to pray on those days when needing a refuge is the furthest thing from my mind. Those are the days, I suppose, when I must remind myself that the prayers I lift to the Lord Most High do not always have to be about me. Those are the days when I must realize that the community I pray these prayers for and with hold many people within them who are in desperate need of such a refuge. Those are the days when I pray for them, my turn will come soon enough.
What does it mean that God is our refuge anyway? The word refuge in the Hebrew is chacah. It means to flee for protection. It is used 25 times in the book of Psalms alone, usually translated either refuge or trust. It conveys the image of God as our safe place. Within the warmth and protection of his loving and powerful embrace we can be fully at home and fully at peace, regardless of the circumstances. God is the one to whom we can flee and find safety. Oh, maybe not safety in the sense that no harm will ever befall us, but safety in the sense that, whatever comes, he is the one in whom we can trust and rest secure. He loves us deeply and is strong enough to shelter us from and sustain us in even the direst of circumstances.
So the psalms are an invitation to step inside the fullness and the beauty that this image has to offer. Therefore, call upon the Lord your God to be your refuge, whatever that may mean today. And if that image doesn't seem to translate into your life at the moment, pray it anyway, I'm sure it does for someone that you know and love.
"Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." ~Psalm 34:8