February 10, 2017 • Life for Leaders
You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.
In the last couple of days, we’ve been focusing on how we can love God with all of our strength in and through our daily work. Today, we continue to reflect on the notion of strength, but from a different and, I would suggest, absolutely essential perspective.
First, let’s set the context. Psalm 59 begins with David’s cry to be rescued from his enemies. He asks the Lord to punish them because of their evil ways. By the end of the psalm, however, David shifts his focus away from his enemies and towards God. He remembers how God has protected him from danger in the past. Thus he concludes this song of worship: “You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.” (59:17).
When have you experienced the strength and safety of a place of refuge? I think of how it feels to be at home during a breathtaking thunderstorm. I grew up in Southern California, where thunderstorms are rare. I experienced a few of these storms during my eight years in Massachusetts. But it wasn’t until my family and I moved to Texas in 2007 that I learned what thunderstorms are really like. Thunder crashes. Lightning flashes. The wind howls. And the rain falls in buckets. Sometimes turning into golf-ball-sized hail. In the middle of the night, soon after my family and I had moved to Texas, we were awakened by a storm. We all got up and sat in our covered porch, amazed by the awesome display before us. Yet we felt completely safe and secure. It was a wonderful feeling. (The photo for today’s reflection is of clouds after a major thunderstorm at Laity Lodge Family Camp in the Texas Hill Country.)
So it can be in our relationship with God. The more we know him and live in him, the more we will experience his strength and protection. To be sure, there will be times of turmoil and trial. But we will know that our lives are safely held in the Lord’s powerful hands. No matter what happens to us in this life, he will never let us go. To know God as our strength is one the most sublime feelings in all of life. Like David, being safe in God’s hands leads us to sing praises to him and to live our life each day as an act of grateful worship.
Moreover, when we recognize that the Lord is our strength, then we won’t try to love him with strength generated by our own efforts. Yes, we will seek to love God with all of our strength, but we will do so with the awareness that we draw strength from the Lord. When we love him with all of our strength, in the workplace or any other context of life, we are giving back to the Lord a part of the gift he has graciously given us.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
When have you experienced God’s strength in your life? In your work?
When have you experienced a place of physical refuge? Emotional refuge? Spiritual refuge?
Can you think of a time when you were weak but God was strong for you, or perhaps in and through you?
Gracious God, my Strength, how I praise you for the ways you shelter me. You have kept me from evil that I know and from evil that I shall never know. You have guided me away from temptation and into the security of your will. You hold me when I am afraid and give me courage to live boldly for you each day.
Thank you, dear Lord, for the gift of knowing you, resting in you, and living in the protection of your might. Thank you for the strength you give me, so that I might love you with all that I am in every part of life.
All praise be to you, O God, my Strength! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: Discovering the Power of Singing to God
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
You need to add “we” in the sentence beginning in the 9th line of the third paragraph: “In the middle of the night, soon after my family and I had moved to Texas, were awakened by a storm.”
I love your pairing of being in awe of the raging storm from the shelter of the porch with God being our shelter in times of trouble. Apt and beautiful.
Ah, yes, indeed. Thanks for the edit, Catharine. And for your consistent encouragement.