ON THE ROCK

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by Pasquale R. Mingarelli

The calendar said Monday, May 31. Memorial Day. The weather didn’t agree. Snow fell to the ground as I set foot on the mountain trail. I kept my focus to climb despite the snow and cold. As a kid I grew up with the white stuff. Why would I let a few inches of it stop my solo hike up Twin Sisters Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado?

Snow fell throughout the morning but only sugar coated the ground. During the early parts of the hike the tall pines kept the stormy wind at bay, but things changed upon passing beyond the timberline. The weather began to show itself. Through my jacket and layers of clothes, I began to feel the cold. I went to get a drink of water from my Camelbak hose and sipped down slush instead. And in several spots I detoured off the trail to avoid the heaviest snow and ice.

The wind speed picked up while I walked along the treeless tundra. It howled down the mountainside. I needed to find cover, ran to the nearest large boulder and ducked alongside it. The big rock protected me from the ravaging winds blowing around. When the wind gust subsided, I hiked to the next big rock and the scene played itself out again. I found comfort in a rock with each ripping wind.

Too often in ministry we find ourselves alone against the elements of this world. We need to find cover. We need a rock. The Bible states that we have God as our rock. The Book of Psalms calls God a rock 19 times. Why? What does that mean?

When we think of how we can encounter large rocks, boulders and cliffs in the wilderness, it helps us understand why the Bible calls God a Rock. We see stability, strength and power in them. Rocks also seem to be unchanging and like I discovered on the side of Twin Sisters, they certainly can provide shelter. When the Bible speaks of God as a rock it points to these qualities in God as well as other qualities.

Twelve of the 19 times the book of Psalms calls God a rock it is King David using the metaphor. If you study the life of David, you’ll know that the fact he called God his rock is very significant. He was a victorious warrior and conquering king, but yet this victorious warrior and conquering king called God His rock? Why?

David spent many years of his life in the Judean wilderness, both as a shepherd and as a fugitive running from Saul. He observed, and no doubt took refuge in, the mighty rocks of the wilderness. He understood what a rock could do for someone. In Psalm 18:2 he writes,

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (NASB)”

In addition to calling God his rock, he ascribes other rock-like qualities to God. He calls God his fortress. A rock is like a fortress—impenetrable and strong. With all his talents and warrior skills, David did not rely on himself, but on the impenetrable strength of God. Sometimes in ministry we feel like we have to rely on ourselves, but Praise the Lord, just like David we can rely on God. We can cling to God as our spiritual fortress. Praise Him! For nothing can breech His walls!

David also says God is the rock in whom he takes refuge. This brave and courageous man of God is willing to admit he needs a place to go and his place is God. Just like I found refuge in a rock while alone on the side of Twin Sisters, we can find refuge in God. How many of us find refuge in our times alone with God? Time alone in that special place where we meet with God not only empowers us to take on the day, but also gives us a place to escape it. If David, the ultimate “ultimate warrior” can find refuge in God, so can we!

Finally, David calls God his salvation and his stronghold. God is not only our spiritual salvation, but He is also our salvation right here, right now, on this earth. When we get in trouble or when life seems a bit overwhelming, we can call on God. Those rocks on the side of Twins Sisters protected me from the wind and God can protect us from the winds of the everyday struggles of ministry. A stronghold refers to a position an army possesses that would be difficult to take because it’s so fortified. Nothing can take us out of God’s hand! We are secure in Him. “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (NASB)”

Another aspect of a rock is power. God holds all power and gives power to us. Just as the power in a rock keeps it from moving in the wind, God gives us power to stand strong in the winds of a blowing and changing culture. Today’s cultural winds seem to be changing faster than at any other time in history. We in the church often find ourselves caught as a lone tree in the path of the winds. But with the power of God we can stand strong like a rock—a rock that stands on the great rock of God. Just like Jesus told us in Matthew 7:24-27, “Yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. (NASB)”

At the goal, the summit of my hike, I experienced a rock in a new way. With the wind no longer funneling down the mountain it lacked strength. I stood in conquering victory above all else upon a rock at the peak of Twin Sisters. When we stand on the rock of God not only is He our fortress, our refuge, our salvation and stronghold, He is our Conquering Victory!

Pasquale “Pat” Mingarelli is a photographer by trade and served 11 years with Campus Crusade for Christ (now called Cru) as a photojournalist. He left Cru to celebrate God as Creator through photography. His unique speaking ministry, The Creation Speaks (www.creationspeaks.com), examines what nature reveals about God. In addition, Pat daily posts one his nature photos with God’s Word on his site The Visual Verse of the Day. http://visualverse.thecreationspeaks.com/.