Monday, July 6, 2009

from the archives: refuge

I walk past the tree described here often, and this post comes back to me. After a summer of bushfires, it seems more appropriate than ever.

I had two very different morning walks early this year. One cold, one hot, miniatures of an unsettled summer.

The first walk was on a bleak and chilly morning. Leaden clouds moved restlessly across the dreary sky. A single crow flew high and lonely against the grey. Above me towered a dead gum, smooth bark the grey-white of old bones and limbs grotesquely contorted, clutching at the sky with twigs like blackened corpses' fingers. All that was missing to make it a truly cliched portent of doom was a flock of ravens cawing ominously from its branches.

I had just read these words about Jesus and the day he comes to bring judgement:

Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. (Revelation 1:7)
A day of terror and anguish for many:

They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" (Revelation 6:16-17)
How frightening must Jesus' anger be, if people would rather have a mountain fall on them than face him!

The second walk was a few days later, under a blazing blue sky. Sweat trickled down my back, promising a sweltering day to come. A gusty north wind carried the acrid odour of a distant bush-fire. Dry leaves skittered rattling across the hot bitumin of the car park, and crested pigeons fled chattering into the shelter of the trees. The air was oppressive, full of the threat of fire.

It reminded me that the safest refuge in the inferno of a bush-fire is the place which has already been burnt black by the flames. When God's anger burns against sin, there is only one safe place: where God's anger has already spent itself. In Jesus, whose pierced hands still recall the day he bore the anguish of the cross in our place, that we might escape.

I know, when God comes in his just judgement against our rebellion, I don't want to be crying for a mountain to hide me. I want to be hiding under the wings of Christ:

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. (Psalm 57:1)
I want to look on the one who was pierced for me, and not mourn, but rejoice.

image is from stock.xchng


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