Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I….Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation….I will not be shaken. (Psalms 61:1-2; 62:5-6)
Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015) was a Christian missionary in Ecuador. When she returned to the U.S. in 1963, she began writing and speaking and authored nearly 30 books. This continues our series commenting on Scripture themes selected by Elisabeth. My comments sometimes recall her radio teaching, writing, and example over the years. If you missed them, you can read What God Is to Me: Elisabeth Elliot (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3), Christ is My Hope, My Trust, My Confidence; Christ is My Strong Tower; Christ is My Inheritance.
Jesus Is More Solid than El Capitan
Years ago in Yosemite National Park, there was a series of earthquakes. Houses were overturned and people were thrown out of bed. Loose rocks from the mountains tumbled down into the valley. People fled in panic because of the upheavals, ready to despair. But one man camped near “El Capitan” a huge, strong rock in the park. El Capitan is 3,000 feet tall along its tallest face, with a base of three miles. The survivor reasoned that if El Capitan ever moved, the whole world would be ending.1
Christians don’t just “hang in there.” We hang onto Christ our solid Rock, knowing that He protects and stabilizes us. Elisabeth wrote, “Faith, prayer, and obedience are our requirements. We are not offered immunity and exemption from the world’s woes. What we are offered in Christ has to do with another world.”2
The Lord (Father, Son, and Spirit) often speaks of Himself as the Rock who gives security and safety to His people. God the Sovereign Father promised of Jesus, “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; whoever relies on Him will never be stricken with panic.”3 Paul says that Christ was the Rock whose spiritual water refreshed and satisfied the Hebrews in the wilderness.4
Peter writes of Jesus as the living Stone rejected by sinful people but chosen by God and precious to God. Whoever trusts in Christ will never be put to shame.5 Peter teaches that God sends troubles because He loves us and wants to refine us, polish us, improve us, and sanctify us. And though we have not yet seen Jesus Christ with our physical eyes, we love Him. And even though we do not see the Lord now, we believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for we are receiving the end result of our faith, the salvation of our souls.6
A Lesson From Proverbs
Proverbs 30:26 says, “The rock badgers are not mighty, yet they make their homes in the rocks.” We can learn a lot from these little critters. This small, fearful animal (also called a coney or hyrax) is helpless against larger predators, but he knows where to go when danger comes—his hiding place. If an eagle or hawk swoops down to capture him, the little badger is protected by the rock and scurries into his den. The eagle would have to tear the mountain apart to get to the badger. If a lion is hunting for a meal, the badger hides in the mountain’s crevices and is safe. If he wanders out into the flat land, he is vulnerable. What the badger lacks in strength, he makes up for in wisdom. He knows to take shelter in the rocks. Only Jesus can defend us against Satan our enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.7
Scripture calls us to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.8 We are not to abandon the God who made us or reject the Rock our Savior.9 We are to run to the Lord as our stronghold, to our God who is the rock of our refuge.10 We are to stick close to the Lord, trusting and obeying Him, or we foolishly expose ourselves to spiritual peril.
Jesus Is Our Rock in a Weary Land
Elisabeth loved gospel hymns and I bet she loved this one by Vernon J. Charlesworth (1838-1915):
The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide, A shelter in the time of storm. Secure whatever ill betide, A shelter in the time of storm.
Chorus: Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land (3X), A shelter in the time of storm.
A shade by day, defense by night, A shelter in the time of storm. No fears alarm, no foes affright, A shelter in the time of storm.
The raging storms may round us beat, A shelter in the time of storm. We’ll never leave our safe retreat, A shelter in the time of storm.
O Rock Divine, O Refuge dear, A shelter in the time of storm. Be now our helper ever near, A shelter in the time of storm.
This hymn was a favorite song of fishermen on the north coast of England. They sang it when dangerous weather was approaching. We can sing it too and/or make it our prayer to the Lord.
Jesus is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.11
Notes (various translations) 1 Story from Rev. Theodore L. Cuyler, Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn, NY. 2 From her book These Strange Ashes: Is God Still in Charge? (2004). 3 Isa 28:16. 4 1 Cor 10:1-5. 5 1 Pet 2:1-8. 6 1 Pet 1:3-9. 7 1 Peter 5:8. 8 Eph 6:10. 9 Deut 32:15. 10 Psalm 94:22. 11 Deut 32:4.