Sun over wheat - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

God recognizes and welcomes people who need help

What do you look like when you’re looking for help? Do you get that blank, worried expression you see on husbands who are seeking peanut butter at the store and have no idea what aisle it’s on? Or do you play it cool?

When I’m looking for help, I try not to look like I’m looking for help. That’s probably silly, and it’s probably a pride issue. But I don’t like to look helpless even if I am. But there are some times when I know I look utterly and completely lost, but even at those times not everyone around me is willing to offer help.

There’s a big difference between recognizing that someone needs help and choosing to stop. 

Sun over wheat - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sun over wheat – Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Nahum 1:7.

God is good, 
   a hiding place in tough times.
He recognizes and welcomes
   anyone looking for help,
No matter how desperate the trouble.

God is the sort of person who will help anyone who comes to Him. Satan wants us to think that God will eventually give up on us and that if we screw up too many times, God won’t help us anymore. He’ll wash His hands of us.

That’s not true. Nowhere in Scripture has God rejected a living, breathing person who turned to Him and asked for help. No matter what kind of trouble we get into in this life, no matter how badly we screw up, no matter where the consequences of our actions have taken us, God is always waiting to welcome us home.

Not only does He recognize that we’re in trouble. He is also willing to help us, eagerly anticipating the day when we get our heads straightened out and come to Him. Like the story of the Prodigal Son. God symbolizes the Father. He’s out waiting in the road, watching for the crazy kid to come walking back.

This passage out of Nahum is pretty interesting. If you have a chance, I’d suggest reading all of Nahum 1, but I’d recommend reading it in the Message (which is the version I used this morning). Nahum is one of those minor prophet books that you need to understand the context before the translation will make sense.

Nahum was a prophet that God sent to Nineveh. Nineveh was a pretty evil place. I’m not going to go into details, but Nahum wasn’t the only prophet God had sent there. And the reason God sent Nahum was to warn the people of Nineveh that judgment was coming and if they didn’t repent, they were all going to die rather unpleasantly. If you study ancient history, in all honesty, losing aspects of Ninevite culture wouldn’t have hurt the world that much. But God doesn’t take anyone for granted, and He doesn’t want anyone to die without giving them a second chance. That’s what Nahum was for.

In the Message, Nahum 1 starts out with the phrase, “God is serious business.” And that’s very true. That statement is followed by a long list of what God is capable of doing. How powerful He is. How mighty He is. How strong He is. The Creator, the Sustainer of everything. What happens when He turns His rage on people who defy Him?

And then we get to Nahum 1:7. “God is good, a hiding place in tough times. He recognizes and welcomes anyone looking for help, no matter how desperate the trouble. ”

What other god would give the people who’ve betrayed and hurt him a chance to come home? Not only a chance to come home, but the opportunity to be safe. Nahum 1:7 tells us just how deeply God cares about us, that He recognizes when we need help, that He welcomes us into a safe place no matter how much trouble we’re in. Even if it’s facing consequences of our own stupidity, God is waiting to welcome us.

So whatever trouble you’re facing, don’t hesitate to take it to God. And if you see someone who is in trouble, stop and help them. And don’t beat them over the head with their troubles. Welcome them into a safe place, like God does for us.

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Cave in the mountains

The difference between a fortress and a shield

Do you ever feel like you need protection? I’m not really one of those people who prefers to sit back and wait for life to come to me. I usually race into conflict with arms open wide, trying my best to get everyone to get along. But as much as I prefer action, there are days when all I want to do is hide. On those days, I feel like the world’s weakest person because I just want to curl up in the darkness and block out the world and everyone in it.

That’s probably not wrong, but isn’t there a way to face conflict between people without getting hurt?

Cave in the mountains

Cave in the mountains - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

The passage for today is Psalm 18:1-2.

   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 forget this really easily. I spend a lot of time fighting, if you will. Of course, that’s metaphorical. I’m not a soldier or a warrior in any stretch of the imagination, but I do end up in the middle of a lot of relationships. And the people who you love can hurt you more than anyone else.

In these verses, David calls God His rock. What does that mean? I mean, if you say someone is your rock, what are you talking about? I’ve always thought it meant that someone is stable and solid and unmoving. If I have a friend who is a rock, that friend is someone I can count on no matter what. But David didn’t stop there. God is our rock and our fortress. Okay. So God is both someone we can count on no matter what and someone we can go to for protection. But notice that He’s also our shield.

So what’s the difference between a shield and a fortress? Well, a fortress is a place you go to for protection. A shield is protection you carry with you.

This is where I get hung up. Because I think that I can run to God for protection until I feel better and then I charge back into battle again. But I leave my shield behind. And that’s why I get hurt again and have to run back for protection when I get hurt.

God’s power isn’t contained merely within a place of refuge, but He gives us the strength to go out into battle and He promises to protect us in the middle of conflict. We don’t have to run away and find a quiet place to recuperate. That’s nice sometimes, but we shouldn’t forget that God has offered to protect us as our shield too.

You have to trust your shield, you have to let the hurtful things others say hit the shield and not you. You have to let the lies that Satan throws at you hit the shield and not you. That’s what a shield is for.

For me, it’s not so much trusting my shield, it’s remembering to take it with me.

So when you wake up in the morning and you know that you’re going to face trials and difficulties, don’t try to do it by yourself. Don’t trust your own abilities to deflect the hurt that will undoubtedly come your way. Take a shield you. Trust that God will absorb the impact. Granted, you’ll probably still feel it. Even people who carried shields in historical battles still felt the impact of swords and arrows, but the pain didn’t linger. So even if you feel the impact, you won’t have to focus on the pain.

That’s what a shield does.