When my children were preschoolers, we lived out in the country amongst farmland. It was quite and safe out there so they were allowed the freedom to roam and play as I worked in the yard. Because our home was set back from the road, half the time I would be outside in my gown as I went about my chores for the day. Country life had it’s perks!
One day, the three children were scattered around the property playing, one with a shovel, one with a hose and one on a bike, when all of a sudden a roaring sound developed. It was impossible to ascertain which direction the sound was coming from but it was getting louder and louder. Nothing could be seen, only the roar could be heard.
As an adult, I knew what the sound was because I had heard it before at other places, but my children had no idea. As I lifted my head at hearing the beginning of the sound, I saw all three of my children instantly drop what they were doing and run as fast as they could to grab hold of my gown. Not one of them made a sound, they just instinctivly ran for their mama in the confusion of the moment. It was like watching a National Geographic show where baby animals behave instinctivly!
Their knee-jerk reaction was to run for cover. But it is noteworthy that they did not run to the porch or inside the house for protection. They ran to me. They knew my instinct was to protect them fiercely. They did not understand military jets and their powerful engines. They didn’t need to, because they knew they had a mama who would watch over them.
As I am reading about David in 1 Samuel 21-23 and the corresponding Psalms (35,57,7), I see the same scenario at play. He is confused and panicked over the turn of events since his anointing by Samuel. He had been chosen by God as the next king of Israel but there would be a wait for him until he ascended the throne. Meanwhile, as faithful as he had been to King Saul and the nation, he was being hunted down for execution because of jealousy and greed.
Betrayed, pursued, rejected…….this was not what he envisioned as the chosen king. He was left stunned and in fear of his life, as strangers and friends alike sought his death.
And how did David respond to these overwhelming circumstances? He ran for cover, just like my children had.
He ran for the refuge of his Heavenly Father as described in Psalm 57:1, “I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”
Many of the Psalms David wrote during his life are filled with descriptions of his turning to the Lord for strength and help. I happily admit that David is my most favorite Old Testament character because of his passion and devotion to the Lord. His life is revealed as flawed at times, but he continuously turns and seeks the Lord. And he worships the Lord in his Psalms just as hard as he cries out to Him for help.
Why? What was the reason he kept running to the Lord? Why did he wholeheartedly pursue God, in good times and bad?
Because of the intimacy! As he had spent a lifetime (beginning in his teenage years) building his relationship with God, he began to receive the payoff. Intimacy!
What started because of duty, reading the Scriptures and praying, in time developed into passion. A transaction had begun taking place. It changed from David solely “giving” in obedience to “receiving ” in love and joy, among many other attributes experienced.
What was one of the main contributing factors in this taking place? Time! David would never have experienced all the intimacy with the Lord without all the time he had put in.
He knew instinctivly what to do when life abruptly changed into what was unrecognizable. He ran for cover because He knew his God so well. With time comes depth, and with depth comes confidence.
Just as my young children knew because of the time they had spent with me; they were confused and fearful of what was happening but they were sure of me.
What about you? When unexpected events such as death or loss, betrayal or injustice , reach your sphere of life, where do you turn? We may feel protected or immune to some storms as we strive to live in our safe little bubbles, but tragedy can come find us anywhere. Then what?
I want to stress that intimacy with God is rarely gained through reading just a short devotional in hand or with a quick app. The tendency of our day to flit here and there with our time and attention is not conducive to hard earned intimacy. Reading more words written about Scripture than the Scripture itself is risky. If that is the only way you spend time with the Lord, I will venture to say that strength, confidence, and intimacy with God will be unlikely compared to the level that David experienced.
There is a pay off when we run for cover to the One who is sovereign and His love unfailing. But that transaction is received to the depth that it has been prepared. Spending regular time in the Word itself primes the pump to flow readily and freely for those times of unexpected life-altering events. As we read about God in the Bible He gave us, we learn about Him more and more. With time comes knowledge, with knowledge comes intimacy. To know Him is to love Him.
When life hits hard and changes our future in a heartbeat, that is when we reap the level of intimacy we have sought to build. We reap what we have sown in our attentiveness to the Lord. And what a payoff it is, to know instinctivly where to run when the mountains shake and our world gives way.
“I cry to you, O LORD; I say, ‘ You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.’ Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name.” Psalm 142:5-7