A different look at every day issues.

In the Safety of the Hollow

Arrows filled the air around them as they struggled from their dead horses in search of safety. It would soon be sundown and their tormentors would honor the cover of darkness. Yet, for now, an all-out attack made the prospect of life seem remote. The two cowboys found themselves stumbling over rocks and dead wood in a dried creek bank as they fled from the certain death of the Crow raiding party. With painful certainty an arrow found its mark in the chest of the younger of the two as he turned to match force with force. The older, wiser man knew from experience that his only hope for survival lay in finding a hiding place where he could clear his head and rest his weary body.

Grabbing his partner’s canteen and scurrying toward a thicket for momentary cover, he silently rejoiced in his discovery of a hollow in the side of the creek bank just beyond the brush. There, at least for now, he could
enjoy the cool and concealed safety he desperately sought. From his place of refuge he could see the body of his partner who was a gambler and accustomed to facing and playing the odds. This time the odds were against him as he paid the ante with his life.

It was a western mini-series on network TV. I watched spellbound as I found myself captivated by a story of the lives and times of men on a cattle drive through hostile Indian territory. There were
no guarantees of safety - only the dreaded uncertainty of facing life moment by moment and being ready to fight to maintain the delicate right to live.

Safety for the survivor lay in a cool concealment where his attackers could not get to him without being exposed to the deadly aim of a western Sharpshooter in the steady hand of a seasoned veteran. For now he was safe. For now he rested.

This scenario describes much of life today as
we find ourselves running for cover from the demands and pressures inherent in our activities. Many meet an untimely demise as they try to match force with force. The certainty of life’s pursuit set in the context of the uncertainty of its demands claims many a hapless victim who has not discovered the safety of the hollow.

There is a spiritual truth here that we cannot ignore. There is a
time to fight and a time to seek refuge. A time to use force and a time to retreat.

Contrary to the ethics of
Christian service and commitment which, in the minds of many are driven by a sense of duty and guilt, there is no sin in having to leave the fight to seek refuge. Those who have discovered the sabbatical rest that comes from dwelling under the shadow of the Almighty will attest to its life-giving qualities.

During a bout with pastoral
burnout a couple decades ago, God tucked me away in a safe place where the enemy could not finish me off. It was there I discovered that periodic rest and retreat are not sinful. It was there that God let me experience wholeness without warfare and safety without guilt. It was in that secret place where God became my refuge and protector. It was there that I first uttered, the Lord is my refuge and fortress. In Him I will trust.

He who dwells in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.
Psalm 91:1-2


Come to me for rest, Jesus invited. Jim, you excellently made the point that if our faith journey is one of striving and stress, we're at the wrong party


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