Our Refuge and Strength

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”—Psalm 46:1-3

My daughter and I played tennis last night and as she jerked the metal tab on the top of the ball can, and peeled away the lid, I couldn’t help but be transported back to my teen years and tennis lessons.

A couple times a week I drove to the ancient run-down middle school set in the downtown area. As I walked across the sweltering asphalt to the courts, bouncing the ball absent-mindedly, I looked for the blond hair of my lanky college-age instructor. Patient yet experienced, Ron made the lessons bearable despite the ridiculous fact I chose afternoons in July to learn tennis. After a few warm-up volleys and practice serves, my shirt was damp. Then I noticed Ron warming up the dreaded ball machine, and my heart sank and I began sweating. The rhythmic “POP” as the air catapulted the yellow ball out of a plastic tube over the net, raised my heart rate as the adrenaline coursed through my body. Low settings were fine, I maneuvered around the steaming court (which sat in full sun), pivoting and running to pound the ball back across the net. Once Ron turned the setting higher and balls came pummeling at me, I jerked around, like a wild puppet, facing off to a barrage of round yellow-green missiles, swiping wildly, lunging awkwardly, until finally (thankfully) all the balls were over the fence, nestled in the net or lounging around the perimeter of the court. Chest heaving, I painfully walked to the sidelines to watch other students take their turn.

My lessons lasted only a few weeks, over the course of a couple summers. I gave up the sport after deciding I had an inherent dislike of running around boiling hot pavement chasing down a fuzzy yellow-green ball.

Sometimes I feel like life is similar to being across the net from the ball machine. Some weeks, small problems come our way, ones we can easily handle. Other times it feels like the ball machine was switched to “High” and the problems come coursing at us, heaped up with no end in sight.

I remember the tragedy of 9/11, and this verse from Psalms was in my heart as I read it over and over. I have since read it many other times, when the problems of life come at a frantic pace, threatening to throw me off my game. The words comfort me, knowing God is my refuge and my strength. I do not have to fear, no matter what assails me. I hope they can provide a comfort for you this week as well!

Prayer—“Ever-present God, thank you for being my refuge and strength. When life throws problems my way, help me to trust you in all things. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”


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