Posted by Christa Bartlett
Usually, when Jay and I look at a map of the world, we are contemplating where we would next like to visit. God has created so much incredible beauty on this planet, and we’ve only experienced a fraction of it – so the idea of “staying put” in one place is not very appealing! We are seeing a lot more maps of the world lately – coloured in with the varying shades of Covid-19 infiltration. The entire globe is experiencing the effects of this pandemic, and the global body of Christ is crying out to God for mercy on behalf of our neighbors, families, and countries.
One of the songs that has returned to us in all this is a simple, old-fashioned chorus, from Proverbs 18:10, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run into it, and are safe.” There are a few different versions of it, but in case you need a new hand-washing song, here’s a link to a nice rousing English version:
Years ago, Jay and I learned the Bulgarian version of this song during one of the short-term mission trips we took to Kazanlak, Bulgaria, in the beautiful Valley of Roses. After we attempted to read the Cyrillic language, our translator, Encho, wrote out the words phonetically for us, so we think of it as “Imetoh Gospodneh.” It was the only song we managed to learn, and so we sang it over and over as we walked through the muddy Roma (gypsy) village with a dozen kids from the heartbreaking, nearby orphanage. We learned that you can show God’s love by playing soccer, braiding hair, cleaning toilets, and providing a weekly morsel of meat (like a fish with its head still attached!). We definitely learned not to take things for granted, and to be thankful in all circumstances!
On Sunday, in the only evangelical church in Kazanlak, we experienced the Holy Spirit in an entirely new way, singing “Amazing Grace” with our brothers and sisters, each in our own languages. Just imagine the joy it brings our Father to hear all the languages on earth raised to Him in praise and petition! The more siblings we meet, and the more cultures we experience, the more we see the likeness of our Father in each face, and the more of Jesus’ compassion we will share for them.
The photo at the top shows a tower we visited, the Shipka Pass monument where Bulgaria and Russia won several battles against the Ottoman Empire. The climb up the hillside was long and tiring; we had to stop to catch our breath a few times, and there were portions of the path where we could only see a few stone steps in front of us. But once we came to the clearing at the top, and then finally gazed out in all directions from behind the parapet wall, the view of the rolling mountains and valleys around us was breathtaking in an entirely different way! The tower wasn’t just a monument of safety, but a place to marvel at God’s magnificence, a beacon for miles around that drew people toward it and offered a glorious perspective of the salvation it had provided centuries ago.
As we consider the darkness of Good Friday, and the disciples who could barely see the next step in front of them, we have the benefit of knowing what glorious sight awaited them on Easter Sunday. When our own path is obscured, we can know that God’s grace and faithfulness await us, with a breathtaking perspective we will enjoy when we make it to the top. He is our Strong Tower!
Discussion & Application: Who are the “righteous” in this verse? Must we be righteous before we run to Him? How do we become and stay that way? How does He keep us safe? How do we reconcile this with tragedies that befall faithful, righteous believers every day? Where else have I placed my trust, and where else have I run in times of need? What perspective have I gained? How do we keep God as our Strong Tower while also sharing His love and compassion with those who need Him, here and around the world?
Prayer Prompt: Father, You are my refuge, my fortress. Thank you for your saving grace, and a perspective that lifts my eyes from myself. Help me to trust in Your strength and not my own. Show me how to love people better, to draw them to Your strong tower in the midst of the storm. Blessed be Your name, Jesus.
Bonus: We really miss our BC3 worship teams! Jay and I love the guitars & drums of this “Strong Tower” song, by Kutless: http://tinyurl.com/wvzjzzm