If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Refuge -- If We Want It

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;  Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. (Psalm 46:1-2)
As soon as I looked over my shoulder at my eleven-year-old son, I knew something was wrong.
"’You okay?" I stopped swimming and began to tread water.
"Uh-huh," he gasped, straining to keep his face out of the surf as he dog-paddled toward me. "I guess so."
"You look like you’re pretty tired," I called back.
We'd been snorkeling around the coral reefs for nearly a half hour when I realized the tide had pulled us much further from shore than I felt comfortable with. Though Nathan had his life-vest secured around his chest, I could tell from his eyes he would not be able to swim the 200 yards to the beach, especially against the tide.
I moved closer and held out my hand. "Here," I said. "Grab hold and let me pull you."
Relief flooded across his face and he eagerly reached for my fingers. I’m not sure how long I pulled him through the water. Perhaps ten minutes. Maybe longer. I only remember my own relief when I tested the water’s depth and finally touched bottom. A few minutes later we stood on the warm sand.
"Thanks, dad," Nathan smiled as we slipped out of our snorkeling gear. "I sure got tired out there."
I also smiled – and at the same time kicked myself for allowing us to get caught in that dangerous situation. As we walked toward the car I breathed a prayer of thanks that we safely reached the shore.
That evening, as I reflected over the afternoon’s incident, I recognized a spiritual application between our swimming experience and life’s ebbs and flows. How often do our days drift effortlessly into weeks, and then months? Significant troubles pass us by. Life is good and we enjoy the gentle rocking of the surf. Then things suddenly take a bad turn. A devastating illness or accident crushes our health. A divorce fractures the family. A loved one dies, or we struggle against overwhelming financial burdens. Whatever the trial, we look around only to discover we’ve drifted far from safety, and it’s all we can do to keep our head above water.  Getting home, we know, will take more energy than we have.

"God is our refuge and strength." I love that promise. "A very present help in trouble. Though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea,” God is with us. Calling to us. Reaching for us.

I'm sure the Psalmist never went snorkeling with his son, but the Psalmist understood God’s protection. He knew from experience – just as I re-learned that day – when we’ve drifted far from safety, our heavenly Father is always alongside, reaching out His hand. As we strain to keep afloat and nothing stands between us and disaster, He calls out: "Here, grab hold. Let me take care of you."

Yet, though I’ve known this to have always been true in my life experiences, I am often bewildered when I meet people struggling through their own near-hopeless trials but won’t reach out and take hold of Him. I’ve even known some to have drowned -- lost their lives or their families -- because they thought they didn’t need His help; Or they didn’t want it.

How can we be so stubborn. Or stupid. Or spiritually blind . . .

Or a deadly combination of the three?


truthfinder2 said...

"Refuge...strength...very present help..." Yes, He is. The Lord Our Help, The Lord Our Strength, The Lord Our Refuge, The All-Sufficient One -- He is all we need. How do we ever forget? Thank you, Rich. I'm praying for you as you settle in. ~ Rosemary in Ohio

Rich Maffeo said...

Thank you, Rosemary. We are in need of your prayers. It is not easy to move so far from so many things and people familiar.