I was watching a Christmas movie the other night with my daughter and one of the characters said a line that has stuck with me for days. The man in the story was talking to an old Sunday school teacher of his and telling her about his troubles. He told her a story of a tree that he remembered from his childhood. This tree was twisted and bent and had barely any needles on it. But there it was, jutting out from the rocks along the ocean waves holding on with dear life. The Sunday school teacher looked at the man and said that maybe the tree wasn’t holding onto the rock, perhaps the rock was holding onto it. It never ceases to amaze me how God can use anything and everything to give us the answer we are seeking, even when we didn’t realize we were asking.
“Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.” Psalm 61:1-4
This is me today- overwhelmed and calling out to my God from a distant land. Overwhelmed means to be covered with something, covered to the point that you can’t see. Kind of like when you pull the blankets over your head. Your eyes and ears are covered and the light and sounds around you are muffled. Being overwhelmed looks and feels much like this. There are many things that we can be overwhelmed about. For instance, we can be overwhelmed with emotions, pain, and suffering. We can be overwhelmed with worry, fear or doubt. Perhaps you need understanding or direction, but you find that you are covered with the blanket of doubt and cannot hear the Lord when He speaks to you.
The Psalmist tells us that his heart is overwhelmed. My heart is overwhelmed as well, so I can relate to what he is writing. My heart is weak and feeble and I am barely able to hang onto the rock. This tree is bending and breaking under the crashing waves of the unknown. Sometimes I feel like I just need to let go, and just let the waves take me under. I feel like I can’t go on anymore hanging onto whatever I can grasp. But then, I am reminded that He is the Rock who is holding onto me and what I need to grasp and hold onto is faith and trust in His ability to be my Rock. It is in these moments, these moments of being overwhelmed is where the Lord shows us that no matter how hard the waves crash against us, no matter how strong the winds are around us, no matter how little we can grasp, He is the one holding onto us.
The rock in the Bible is used as a symbol. It is a symbol of strength. It is strong and sturdy; it endures all that comes against it. Think about the rocks that jut out into the sea, along every coastline in the world. Year after year the waves beat upon them, pound at them under the mighty winds of the hurricanes and powerful storms. But yet, after the storm, the rocks still remain. Some of thecharacteristics of the rocks have changed; perhaps one that had sharp edges is now softened. But the rock itself is still intact. We too are like these rocks, or at least we can be. We can be changed and softened by the waves that pound, but the truth remains that no matter what these rocks have still remained.
The rocks are also used as a symbol of refuge; a place where creatures flee from harm and are protected in the clefts and caves of their strength. Jesus is our Rock. He is our refuge. He is the Rock that we cling to, and He is the Rock that is clinging to us. In these moments of life when all is overwhelming and we cannot see the light or hear the sound of His voice, it is in these moments when we must remember that He is the Rock and He will never let us go. The Psalmist cries out to the Lord and tells him that “from the end of the earth” he cries out to God. From the end of the earth, which is where I feel like I am at today. Far away from God, far from what I know He wants me to be, I too am crying out.
The Reformation Study Bible states that the Psalmist “comes to the critical recognition that he does not have the strength to rescue himself, he can only turn to God in trust.” (www.biblegateway.com, study tools, Psalm 61:2) The Rock that I need to cling to is the same Rock that is clinging to me. No matter how far away I have wandered, no matter how far I have fallen, I can always come back to the Rock because He has never let His grip on me go. I have become overwhelmed with life because I let some of my grip slip. But I also forgot to see that He has never let His grip falter on me. His grip on me is in my roots, it is in the very depth of my soul. My heart may be overwhelmed, but Christ still lives in me.
Friend, brother, sister, I do not know where you are today in your walk with Christ. But one thing I know for sure is that no matter where you have gone, how far you have fallen, or how thick the blanket is that you have pulled up over yourself, your Rock, your God has never let go of you. No distance is too far for Him in regards to you. The span of the seas, the depths of the oceans cannot take away or destroy the hold He has on you. Let us all today, which are overwhelmed or just in need of a reminder, cry out to the Rock who is holding onto us. Just like that twisted and bent tree, clinging to the rocks below, let us also be encouraged that the same Rock is clinging to us as well. May the Lord God bless His words today and give us the strength, the faith and the trust to cry out and let Him lead us to the Rock that is higher than us all. In Jesus Name, amen and amen.