My Rock

Psalm 18

Jesus, Rock, My Rock

I was brought up in a small village in Albania where we spend most of our days outside. Country living is not as idealistic as the magazines make it. Farming is hard work. It was hot in the summer and very cold in the winter, but work was as hard in every season. 

What comforted the villagers and myself when working in the fields was the presence of some big rocks along the paths that had names and served as shelter, safety and security. 

Whether it was hot and the sun was scorching our heads, or stormy and the wind was running wild, those rocks were the perfect place to run to. 

“I love you, Lord; you are my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies.”

Psalms 18:1-3 NLT

For David, to pen those words after 20 years of living as fugitive and in fear, God must have meant the same. 

Shelter

Safety

Security 

Many things had gone and forgotten during those years for David, many comforts and connections had been lost during that time, but God stayed the same, like an immovable rock, he stood the seasons of his life and all the changes he faced. 

We use it often these days, said associated with people ’he is my rock’ ’she is my rock’ ’they are my rock, ’ but have we experinced Christ to be The Rock, like that old hymn by Augustus Toplday says it: 

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,

Let me hide myself in Thee;

Let the water and the blood,

From Thy riven side which flowed,

Be of sin the double cure,

Cleanse me from its guilt and power.

Not the labour of my hands

Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;

Could my zeal no respite know,

Could my tears forever flow,

All for sin could not atone;

Thou must save, and Thou alone… 

What is that one person in your life that is immovable and that you can lean on him/her all the time?

I have a loving husband, loving friends and family, still I have found that none can fill the place of  Christ…  He is my rock and my strong tower. 

Grace -Graffiti

Psalm 17

I have tasted firsthand the problem of bullying. I recognize the fear-full eyes, the trembling body and the running away urge. All you think is finding a safe place to hide, a strong person to be near to or the bus doors to shut and leave before ’they’ get you. Run, hurry, hide… it was my son’s life for a year. 

Bullies don’t care, they will pick on anything to make your life miserable. Your hight, your sight, your body shape, your intellect, your walk, your talk… endless reasons. They are unhappy and want to make anyone else miserable too. 

Paint grace-graffiti on the fences; take in your frightened children who Are running from the neighbourhood bullies straight to you.”

Psalm17:7MSG

What helped with my son was ’the grace graffiti walls’ we had signposted at home to support him. We painted and outlined a picture of love and care, support and encouragement, strength and affirmation to follow. 

We made sure that he knew and run to that safe place when in danger . We made it clear that we will always support him and that he could forever share and tell us about everything that went on at school and inside him. 

That’s what God does, he offers a very good and clear path for us when we are chased by bullies. 

Bullies never disappear, they are people, problems, powers, perils that come to trouble our minds and hearts and wear us down. It’s a dark world out there, but God paints hope graffiti signs and fences everywhere for us to run to and find help and comfort.  

His lovingkindness shelters us and protects our hearts in times of trouble. Let’s run to him today. 

(see Jeremiah 31:3, Ephesians 2:7 , Luke 6:36

One foot in front of the other

Psalm 17

There are rare those days when I wake up and I feel full of energy and determination

The days when awake full of optimisem and determination, full of light and ideas, ready to go and grab life by the horns.

Most of my days start with me standing before Mount Everest thinking how to tackle the enormous climb ahead of me. Some chores feel impossible and ‘to do list’ very entangled.

If you asked people who have climbed successfully Mount Everest about their best advice, at the top of their list will be: prepare beforehand ( mind, body and soul, including prepare for surprises, always), walk slow and steady and stay on the guide’s path. 

Our devotion today stops to remind us just that. 

“I’m not trying to get my way in the world’s way. I’m trying to get your way, your Word’s way. I’m staying on your trail; I’m putting one foot In front of the other. I’m not giving up.”

Psalm 17:4-5 MSG

I can witness full heartily that when I prepare for my day, that day goes better. I didn’t say perfect, but way better than when I don’t. 

Preparation for me is simply – prayer, plan and pause. I must start my morning with prayer and meditation, I need to remind myself that I am not alone and that I have a great ally on my side. The creator of the universe stands by me and for me with creativity, guidance, wisdom and help. I can rely on him always. 

Slow and steady is way better than hurry and hassle. Even when I am facing a deadline or urgent matter, the best way I have seen that accomplished is by progressing in a calm and continuous way. 

The feeling to want to give up is real when we are overwhlemed, we just want to stay in bed all day.

It’s natural for the climbers to want to turn back when the lack of oxygen in the lungs is giving crazy headache and pain. Still, ’not giving up’ is the way forward and a lot of times that is obtained by simply putting one foot in front of the other as we follow the guide. 

Holy Spirit is our guide 

( see Proverbs 21:31, 2 Timothy 4:7, Romans 8:14, Galatians 5:25

Unshakable

Psalm 16:8

One things that we have done most of the evenings with the family during the quarantine time is watching films. 

Long films. Films like The Hobbit, Star Wars, Avengers series etc. 

All these movies have a good story line and are excellent at showing clearly the war between evil and good and the triumph of the good ultimately. 

We were watching The Hobbit the other day, the last part of the Trilogy, right in the beginning there is this scene where Smaug the dragon attacks the people of Laketown with fire and destruction. Nothing is working in destroying the beast, all hope rests on a single black arrow that father and son (Bard and Bain) inherited from their ancestors. Resting the arrow on his son’s shoulder Bard takes his aim, but Bain is afraid. He is young and the sight of a fire approaching dragon can shake even a powerful man. 

Bard, the father asked his son to focus and look at him, not on the dragon approching, not on the noise coming from the town in flame, but on him, on his face. 

As father and son lock their eyes together, the black arrow flies from the father’s hands while being stabilized on the shoulder of the son, taken by the help of the wind straight into the dragon’s heart. The beast falls lifeless bringing an end to his destructive power. 

“I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”

Psalms 16:8 NIVUK

We don’t face fire breathing dragons these days, but we do face many problems with devastating effects. We doubt and we wrestle with issues that scare us and shake our faith and confidence.

Doubt comes to divide us in two, and divided we can’t win any battles. Faith on the other side is a single focus on God, which fills us with confidence to conquer and overcome all we face. 

LD

If we keep our eyes on the Lord always no matter what we face, we will be unshakable people. Yes, stuff will come to shake us and uproot us but with God in our gaze, we will be unmovable. 

 Where we focus while facing crises is very important. Because where we focus we follow, where we keep our eyes on, we drive our lives to. 

LD

( see Hebrews 11:1, Matthew 14:28-33

Crazy Choices

Psalm 16

More options don’t mean more freedom. 

Have you ever gone to the supermarket and tried to choose toilet paper and spend nearly 15 minutes in that isle only? It’s crazy the choices we have to make daily. 

We seem to like options, as many options put before us as possible.

Then, we find it very difficult to choose because the options are overwhelming. 

What is even sadder is that when we eventually choose we don’t enjoy our choice because we worry whether we made the right one and if our choice will be welcomed by culture. It’s crazy! 

Still, not choosing is a choice. 

Toilet paper and our daily coffee selection might not be vital to our living, but there are choices that are in direct connection to our wellbeing, joy and having a full life that we must make. 

We read today:

“My choice is you, GOD, first and only. And now I find I’m your choice! You set me up with a house and yard. And then you made me your heir!”

Psalm 16:5-6 MSG

There seems to be this one choice that although might sound crazy to many of us and yes, I can see ’rolling eyes’ going, still, I must agree with that song that says it very well –

it’s simply the best. 

I know that we are made to live a life of joy and love, not of fear and worry about making the wrong choices constantly. We are created to commit and not ’keep all the options open’ because the later one closes all options. 

When we choose God, with him we choose infinite possibilities, when we choose the ’god of all choices’ in the end, we are left with none. 

This is the choice put before all people, believers and none believers alike. For I, myself, am consistently guilty in worshipping the ’god of open choices’ and I need to make that crazy, certain and courageous choice to choose God daily. 

(see Ephesians 1:4, 2Thesalonians 2:13, 1 Kings 18:21) 

Integrity (Keeping our Word)

Psalm 15

”I will call you tomorrow. Let’s meet for coffee this week. Come over for dinner at ours soon. I will send you that, give you the information you need, donate that.” 

How many words do we say daily that we don’t really mean? What about the promises we give and know we can’t accomplish? 

Integrity hurts, it’s unpopular at times and puts us in awkward situations.

I am learning, I am really learning to say ’no’ or ’yes’ and I mean it.

People do react when they hear what they don’t want to hear, but it’s better, to be honest, a person of integrity than popular for saying what people want to hear but not deliver. 

Honesty is telling the truth inside and outside ourselves.  

In today’s psalm, we see that ’mouth’ is at the top of the list when it comes to having a continuing fellowship with God and others. It’s about speaking the truth in love, it’s about not slandering and putting down people, it’s about not putting mud on our neighbour’s faces, it’s about keeping our word even when it hurts or it’s no longer a benefit to us. 

I know that all this is hard, trust me, my mouth gets me in trouble more than anything else does, but we are saved by grace not by list keeping, so we invite that grace, Jesus to help us to be people of integrity and excellence.

He was the only one who meant what he said and said what he meant, he kept his word even when it hurt, yes even tasting death.

He is able to help us become people of integrity and exellence and add no guilt or sorrow through the process. 

(see Proverbs 11:3, Proverbs 12:22, 2 Corinthians 8:21)