Dear members and friends of Grace,
Are you getting a vacation this year? For some it is a week or two traveling. For some it's every weekend at the cabin. For some the answer is simply, "No."
As soon as summer came, our congregation at Grace invited the children of the community for Vacation Bible School. For those who attended, it was like a little vacation. Our teachers and helpers took them on a little trip to a castle fortress, where they played and ate and made things, and where they learned about Jesus their Savior and about the God who is a Mighty Fortress.
"God is our Refuge and Strength, and ever present Help in trouble." Those words from Psalm 46 helped to make our VBS a bit of a vacation. When we come to learn from God's Word we leave behind our everyday lives and concentrate on another life, a better life that God has given us through the Lord Jesus. That is true not only for children in VBS, but for all of us as we gather weekly around God's Word, and the precious sacraments which he has given to us. And when we have had our souls filled with the reminder of God's grace, we can go back to everyday living with a renewed confidence and calm, and with the assurance that we can do whatever we need to do through Christ, who gives us strength.
The castle at VBS brought to life the picture that God paints as our Refuge and Strength. The imposing building with a huge drawbridge, the thick fortress walls, and the guards in knightly armor demonstrated the safety and strength that God offers when we come to him as our Refuge. On the other hand, a refuge might bring to mind something as simple as a canopy to keep you dry in a rainstorm. Whatever picture comes to mind, God offers himself as the one to whom we can run in our times of trouble or need.
Knowing God as our refuge enables us to trust that we need not fear situations or people who might threaten our well-being, whether in a physical or spiritual sense. There is no situation we face that is out of God’s view, so the best place to be, always, is right with Him. The book of Proverbs says, “The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10
A good piece of news is that our Lord God never takes a vacation. He is, as the psalm says, "an ever present help in trouble." Another psalm assures us, "He that watches over you will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand" (Psalm 121:4-5). A funny little video clip recently showed a toddler who noticed his shadow for the first time. He tried and tried to get away from it but could not shake it loose. The Lord sticks with you like your shadow, and even more so, because even the clouds and dark times of life cannot cause him to leave your side. And I pray the nothing in your life ever makes you want to shake him loose or be free of him. We may be tempted to look for safety in things other than God, but such things can only provide a false and temporary sense of security. We are safe only when we find refuge in him, and we do that most surely by coming back to the means by which he has promised to reach us, the Word and the sacraments.
Summer is thought of as the time for vacations. But not for God. "Never will I leave you," he says, "never will I forsake you." And if you have been on vacation from him, it is time to come home.
In Jesus' name,