Salvation ... comes from the Lord ... because they take refuge in him. (Psalm 37:39-40)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Preface: Storms, Devastation, and Refuge

Within the week, not just one, but two major forces of the earth's power touched our region. An earthquake centered above Richmond, VA sent out tremors felt as far north as Canada. Hurricane Irene made it's presence known most of the way up the east coast of the U.S. The sheer size and awesomeness of these events should make it clear that regardless what a person thinks and feels about God, the physical laws of nature are working as designed.

As Jesus taught when he lived on earth, the physical elements have a lot to say about the spiritual realities. The Kingdom of God is not a physical kingdom, but God rules in majesty and power. He lives and reigns in the heart of a person if He is trusted to do so. His Refuge is available, but only at our invitation can it rescue us from the storms of life that erupt in our spirit being. He must be given the authority to change our hearts the way He sees fit.

Since the first sin of mankind, the raw nature of every person who lives on earth is to reject the proper boundaries God has established for the good of all creation, and grab as much control of his or her surroundings and circumstances as possible. This causes inevitable offense. Every person offends and is offended against. I discuss this cycle in Chapter One of the book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart. In Chapter Two I discuss why this is true, and the remainder of the book is what I believe to be the solution.

Every once in a while nature presents itself so powerfully, basic questions about the meaning and purpose in life come to the fore. As with natural disasters, people's behavior sometimes create events which are difficult to understand and raise questions extremely difficult for which to find a spiritual answer. In the Preface of my book, I discuss two of these. About six years ago, two murders happened within a ten month period in our region (Lancaster County, PA)  which greatly influenced my research and purposes for writing the book. In each case, a man who understood and practiced the truth of Christianity, also tolerated a dark place in his soul that became a whirlwind out of control. Hosea 8:7 says, "They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind." The ancient nation of Israel (translated as God's people today) became physically and spiritually overcome by the storms. Losing their focus on God as their Refuge cost them everything.

The darkness of unresolved bitterness and resentment created a whirlwind that cost the two murderers everything. One of these men took his own life during the crime, and one has a sentence of life imprisonment. The devastation on family and community members left behind cannot be measured. Perhaps not all the questions can be answered. Not all the issues can be fully resolved. Certainly the deeds done cannot be undone. Past actions cannot be changed, but responses to those actions can be changed. I believe there is a place in God's Refuge where offense can be released.  My book explains how this can be done. Many places in the Bible talk about this, but one that come to mind right now is Hebrews 12. Read it and let me know what you think.

I pray that you can find peace from the storms by surrendering your own attempts at refuge to God's Refuge through Jesus Christ.

The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart will be available in early September.

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry