Each day life presents us with many choices. Each day we are faced with the opportunity to choose lots of things. Many of the choices are relatively minor. This cereal or that for breakfast. This route or that one as we make our way to work.
Other choices are more significant. After high school should I go to college or join the military? Either one has the ability to affect a person for the rest of their lives, and often in ways that are unable to be predicted when the choice itself is made.
Some choices are exclusive, meaning that if I choose one thing then other things have to be eliminated as options. Should I ask that person to marry me? If I do, and they accept, then it means leaving behind a life of being single. As much as a person may want to live for periods of time in each world, choosing one means leaving the other behind. We just can't have it both ways.
This idea of one thing excluding something else came to mind as I was reading Psalm 34. In verse 22, where the Psalm ends, it says:
"The LORD redeems the life of his servants;
None of those who take refuge in him will be condemned."
There is a promise within this verse, and like all the promises of God it is a very good one. The promise is that the LORD will redeem the life of his servants. Anyone who comes to God as God's servant will find redemption. Guaranteed. It is a promise in the Psalm that points forward to the saving work of Christ Jesus.
The second line of the verse emphasizes the fact of that promise. In God there is refuge. By taking refuge in God we are protected from eternal condemnation.
There is a curious thing about refuge in God. His refuge is a really good thing but so often we don’t find it to be satisfying. When times are troubled we appreciate God's protection and deliverance but when the crisis passes and the sun is out we find ourselves wanting to step outside the refuge a bit. To play in the grass between the fortress and the forest. Maybe to lay in the shade of the trees, not quite in the woods but just at their edge.
We want God's protection in the dangerous times but we want trust in our ability to watch out for ourselves once the danger passes. We want to have it both ways, and that is dangerous.
God promises that he will always hold on to those who come to Him by faith in Jesus, but His grasp doesn't prevent us from episodes of kicking and screaming like a toddler, hurting ourselves more than anything else. So a large part of life in God is learning to trust Him and to live within the refuge each and every day. To learn that the joys inside His refuge are infinitely better than the appearance of anything on the outside.
We can’t have it both ways, nor should we want to. His ways are always good, and may you grow in your delight of His refuge each day. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.