The past few months were challenging – trying to meet deadlines and also grieving over the loss of a few dear friends. One of my dear friends whom I knew for over 50 years was called home to the Lord a month ago. Two weeks later my professor in Aberdeen, who impacted my life greatly, was also called home. At that time I was committed to an intense teaching project and so had little time to grieve.
What should one do when different challenges converge at the same time? What helped me most and carried me through the weeks of deadlines and sadness was the amazing grace of God through Christ! I was nourished, sustained and empowered by God’s presence and his almighty outstretched hand (Isaiah 41:10). A song by Paul Wilbur I learnt recently – In Your Presence – sums up what I experienced: God’s supernatural strength:
In your presence that’s where I am strong,
In your presence O Lord my God,
In your presence, that’s where I belong,
Seeking you face, touching your grace,
In the cleft of the Rock.
In your presence O God.
It was in his presence that I found strength, hope, stability, peace and courage to press on and complete my many tasks. It was through him that my strength was perfected daily in my weak body! God gave me grace upon grace, strength upon strength to accomplish and fulfil my tasks! I cannot imagine what I would have done without Christ, my solid Rock whom I held on to tenaciously! With the hymn writer I too declare:
I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how he could love me,
A sinner, condemned unclean!
How marvellous! How wonderful!,
And my song shall ever be;
How marvellous! How wonderful!
Is my Saviour’s love for me! (Charles Gabriel)
All of us will face different challenges in life. We all continue to live under the cloud of the pandemic with its related challenges and frustrations. In the midst of uncertainties, God is teaching me to find my position, posture, purpose and power in his presence – in the cleft of the Rock!
I was intrigued by the phrase – cleft of the Rock, as I played the song many times over. I meditated on Exodus 33:22 and concluded that God had ‘forcibly’ split the Rock to create a cleft so that I can enter his presence! Yes, God my Rock has made a way for me through Christ! Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, took my sin and enabled me to enter his presence and hide in the cleft of the Rock. That no matter what the storm, trial or challenge he will hold me fast in the cleft of the Rock! Indeed in his presence, that’s where I am strong! May I continue to stay close to Christ the cleft of the Rock!
A wonderful Saviour is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Saviour to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock where rivers of pleasure I see.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of his love,
And covers me there with his hand,
And covers me there with his hand. (Fanny Crosby)
By sister Violet James