My new cell is meditating on a “lil nug” of scripture every week. This week it was Psalm 91:2 “He alone is my refuge, my place of safety.” After a week of terrible news in our personal lives and around the world, some of us were tempted to say “That’s cute.” We can read the words and understand them and even say we believe them but we were honest enough to admit that we might not really believe it sometimes.
When people invent new ways to hurt people like that guy in Nice, France yesterday, when relationships are broken, when bills aren’t getting paid, when we are weary from anxious thoughts, when we can’t find a job, how in the world can we say with integrity that God alone is our refuge, our place of safety?
It’s a good question. Here are three things to try when the Bible’s promises seem like they’re just cute.
1. Write a song about it.
Here’s one we wrote last week: link
When we put our creative energy into something it accesses a deeper place in us than our regularly scheduled thought programming. There’s something about trying to say something we believe in a beautiful way that gets underneath our cynicism. If you’re not a musician, find a friend who is. We wrote the song above for the Sunday meeting that spoke to the violence of last week. This song was based on the classic hymn “Be Still My Soul.” The Design Team wrote it collaboratively. Dan and Pat worked on the melody and a handful of other people worked together on the lyrics. Now it’s part of a soundtrack that is seeping into my soul.
2. Talk about it
A lot of Christians think it’s a sin to admit that they’re wondering if Psalm 91:2 isn’t just cute. They’ve been taught to say “yes” to everything in the Bible without very much room to acknowledge the ways they’re having trouble believing. It seems that standard practice for such problems is just to believe harder–force your will into it, be the round peg for the round hole even though you are clearly square. Sharing our honest thoughts and feelings about our beliefs is a great way to grow in faith.
Even just telling yourself or telling God can be helpful. There’s a strange release of pressure when you share something like that rather than keep it inside. It’s not like you instantly change your mind, but you create space in yourself for more of a process. You invite God into it. Jesus said a mustard seed of faith was enough, so I take him on his word. You might not have all the faith and that’s okay. You have enough. Being honest about where you’re at will help you have more.
3. Meditate about it
Try this: Close your eyes, breathe deeply–all the way into your belly. It helps me to imagine that I am filling up my whole body with air, from my toes to the top of my head; then let it out slowly. Repeat this and as you breathe in, say in your mind “You alone are my refuge” and as you breath out say, “My place of safety.” It’s not revolutionary. Christians have been doing breath prayers like this for years. Again, the benefit of this type of prayer is that it gets below our conscious hang-ups. It’s a way to reprogram our hearts. I can say from personal experience that it has a tangible effect on my day when I do it in the morning. Over the long run this practice has helped me to believe the promises from the Bible like “He alone is my refuge, my place of safety.” And that IS revolutionary.
We need a refuge. We need safety. The world needs a refuge. The world needs safety. When we live out of the promises like this one the best we can today, we will be a part of creating the refuge and safety for others, even if it’s in very tiny ways. When we do it together as a Circle of Hope, our collective tiny faith will be significant.