(Scriptures in this post are from the New International Version of the Bible.)
So much of following God depends on believing and seeking out what we can’t see:
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).
However, life is fast-moving and there is so much right in my face. Honestly, sometimes I can feel like some Biblical concepts are too abstract and ambiguous to pursue. How can I know how to do something if I can’t see it right in front of me?
On the other hand, I truly believe that God doesn’t just put impossible things in the Bible just to mess with us. It takes looking at it a little bit different.
One of the concepts I have trouble with is taking refuge in God. I’m meditating on Psalm 34 lately, which talks a lot about fear and God.
I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears (vs. 4).
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him (vs. 8).
All well and good, except how do I take refuge in God? Taking refuge is like taking shelter from a storm, or getting comfort from something in a time of trouble. How can I do that with a God who isn’t physically right next to me, who doesn’t talk directly to me, who doesn’t pick me up and put me in a protective place when things get dangerous?
I can’t give you all the answers. But I can tell you that even though I don’t always think about it, I always take refuge in something. Here’s an example:
After I had Nolan and started nursing, we figured out that he was having tummy trouble, which left him in a lot of pain. At the same time, I was hitting my comfort food hard, since it was an emotional and tiring time. The idea of giving up foods that made me feel even a little better emotionally seemed too much for me to handle – in fact, I cried and got upset about it multiple times. (Like a baby, incidentally.)
Currently, the benefits of going dairy-free in my diet win over my own comfort. But do you see what I’m getting at? Food can be something I “take refuge in”. It makes me feel better when I’m down or weary. I look to it as my comfort. But it doesn’t solve my problems.
Other things I can take refuge in? Shopping, social media, TV. I can choose to “escape” life for a little while by browsing stores online, scrolling through my news feed, or watching some show or movie. Just because they make me feel better.
Let’s take a step back. Watching a movie to take a break for a bit is not a sin. Shopping or even just window shopping is not a sin. Here’s where the problem comes in: when that is my first response to a sign of challenges. When I ignore the problem and pin pretty pictures on Pinterest instead. When binge-watching The Office becomes a priority and everything else goes on hold.
So whether or not I see it that way, I do take refuge in something. What does it take to transfer that dependance on food or shopping or TV (or whatever it is for you) into a dependence on God?
Taking comfort in scriptures. God may not speak to me directly (thankfully – that would be pretty intense). But he does write words and words of comfort, love, mercy, and kindness to us in his Word. I have certain ones I go to again and again when I’m hurting. Some of them are Lamentations 3:22-23, Psalm 34:17-18, and Isaiah 40:27-31. They remind me that God is for me, and that no matter what the situation is, I can depend on him to have purpose for me and to work it out for my good.
Finding direction in scriptures. 2 Timothy 3 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” When I just go to things in this world to get comfort, I’m not actually solving any problems. It is what it is – just an escape. But when I go to God’s Word, there are answers waiting for me. Maybe not for every detail, but at least help in being godly, even in the time I’m waiting for a solid answer.
Prayer. When we have nothing else, we have prayer. Sometimes it doesn’t seem very powerful – it’s just talking, isn’t it? Until I remember who I’m talking to, and that he actually cares about me and the outcome for me. God wants to hear our hearts, to lay out our requests before him, and to trust him. When you take refuge in something physical, you are trusting it will take care of you or at least make you feel safe and secure. To take refuge in God, we offer that trust to him instead.
And the Key: Consistency. I’m thinking a lot lately about the concept of dwelling in God, keeping a steady pace with him, and not just running to him when it’s an emergency. (That is more of my tendency.) Good habits and addictions kind of start the same way: they start as something you continually choose to pursue, until eventually they become second-nature. My goal is to have consistency in my walk with God, so that when hardships hit, they don’t seem so devastating, and it doesn’t seem like such a leap to run to God.
When those things are done, when scriptures are dug through and words are said to God, then I feel at least a little more confident to face the challenges. And then, I can give myself time to enjoy something that might make me feel better in the moment.
What do you run to for comfort or refuge? How can you take refuge in God instead?