Since the beginning of the year, I have tried to be a bit more intentional with reading the Bible. Up until then, I would read a bit from one section on one day and then read from a different section the next day, a method that would all too often exercise the ‘forgetful’ part of my brain as opposed to the ‘registered’ part of my brain.
My new plan would involve reading books in full (and not just the small ones), spending time reflecting on certain passages and making some notes. I needed to do something that would work a little better.
Recently, I’ve been delving into the Psalms and there has been one thing that has struck me time and time again – namely, how often God is referred to as a ‘rock’. I could say the reason for this is due to me developing a studious eye for detail in regards to Biblical trends and metaphors, but that would be a lie. Conversely, it could be that this imagery provides me with a picture of God that I really need to know right now. That seems more likely.
I did a little digging and, in one translation of the Bible, God is referred to as a ‘rock’ about 20 times in the Psalms alone. For the writers of these Psalms, I doubt whether their use of this sort of imagery was flippant or simply a case of ‘dramatic license’. I think a more reasonable explanation is that in a rock the writers saw something that sharply resonated with something they had experienced of God.
One such example of God being referred to as a ‘rock’ can be found in Psalm 63:2&6:
‘He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I shall never be shaken’
When I think about some of the common characteristics and features of a rock, the following comes to mind:
Big (in many cases)
As I reflected on these, I was reminded that it is one thing reading of how God can be regarded as a rock, it is another making the conscious decision to step onto the rock.
For me, this means a number of things…
One, it means resting assured that as I journey through life, be it in the office or in my relationships, God is there supporting me at all times. There is not one area of my life that God is not interested or involved in.
Two, it means that when I get insecure about who I am and what I look like and what I am good at, I can look to God who shows me that all that matters is that I am His child and part of an inheritance that is secure, all thanks to what Jesus achieved on the cross.
Three, it means that when I look at my own life and the world around me, I can see that everything has its foundation in God. We breathe because God breathed into us life. The sun rises in the morning and sets at night because God made it that way. We have relationships because God knew the importance of talking, crying and laughing with each other. My life somehow now makes sense because God has given me purpose.
Four, it means that when I am weak, tired and in a difficult situation or going through a tough time, God is strong. No matter how small the issue, God is strong and a faithful place of refuge. Whenever this happens, I am humbly reminded that I am frail person who is constantly in need of grace.
And fifth, it means that when I am searching for answers and explanations for what is going on in my life and the world around me, I can step onto the rock that is higher than I, able to catch a glimpse of the way God sees things. Why do we often climb onto the higher rocks in the first place? It allows us to see a view or site from a different, broader perspective. The thing is, God sees the whole picture. I just see fragments of it, many of which in my mind make no sense. If I can somehow acknowledge the way God sees things, the fragments begin to make sense.
What I have found is that it is only by stepping onto this rock have I realised just how strong it is.
And what’s more, it’s a rock I don’t think I can ever step down from.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
-Edward Mote (1797-1874)