BALANCED ROCK

When we were out west, we saw several rocks that were named “Balanced Rock”.

There is Balanced Rock in the Garden of the Gods, Denver, Colorado.

There is Balanced Rock in Estes Park, Colorado, a very different rock than in the Garden of the Gods.

Then there is Balanced Rock in Arches National Park, outside of Moab, Utah.

This is a close-up of the rock holding Balanced Rock up … fairly tenuous except for the fact that it is all rock!

While not exactly a balanced rock, I found this rock formation interesting – a boot or shoe perhaps for a giant!  This also was in Canyonlands National Park, also outside Moab, Utah.

Then there is the Balanced Rock in the Colorado National Monument. Balanced Rock Colorado National Monument

There are a myriad of incredible rock formations around the Balanced Rock in the National Monument. 

In Southern Idaho there is Balanced Rock which is stunning as it sits atop a ledge, looking somewhat like a question mark in the sky!

Each one of these “rocks” was named Balanced Rock.  And, indeed, they were perched up on top of other rocks as if they were balanced.  Of course, we know that time, water, erosion have all played a part in sculpting the rocks so that it appears they are balanced on top of the pile.  And it may well be that, in a few centuries, these rocks will tumble down into a pile of rubble.  Then, there will be some other rock that will be “balanced,” I suspect.

As we begin the year 2021, I thought we should consider balance and its source.

We can undertake numerous activities in 2021 and still not be balanced.  We can do all sorts of wondrous things, see all sorts of sights, and encounter many people who will enrich our lives with their presence, their stories and their witness.  But will we be balanced?

What gives us our balance?

I suggest that it is not the pile of rocks on which we rely – fame, riches, family, even church activities.  I suggest that we achieve balance in the way that David said:

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Psalm 95:1

As Moses was approaching his death and as he commissioned Joshua to take his place as leader of the Israelite people, he said this about God:

“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.   May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like gentle rain upon the tender grass, and like showers upon the herb.  For I will proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God!  The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.”

Deuteronomy 32:1-4

In 2 Samuel, David utters his last words to the people he ruled for so long:

Now these are the last words of David: The oracle of David, the son of Jesse, the oracle of the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel:  “The Spirit of the LORD speaks by me; his word is on my tongue.  The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God,  he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.

2 Samuel 23:1-4

Isaiah provides a warning to us – the Israelites had forgotten God and there would be resulting hardship and punishment:

For you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge; therefore, though you plant pleasant plants and sow the vine-branch of a stranger, though you make them grow on the day that you plant them, and make them blossom in the morning that you sow, yet the harvest will flee away in a day of grief and incurable pain.

Isaiah 17:10-11

Jesus used the rock as illustration in one of His parables:

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”

Matthew 7:24-25

Beloved, Jesus is the Rock of our salvation.  It is He who lived a sinless life but died on the cross for our sins.  It is He who suffered the penalty that was due for us to endure.  It is He who was resurrected from the dead after three days, and it is He who lives today in Heaven where He intercedes on behalf of His people, those who believe in Him through faith.

In Psalm 94, David says this of God:

But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge.

Psalm 94:22

I pray that you would make it your prayer for 2021 that you would lodge in the stronghold of the Lord.  That God would be the rock in which you take refuge. 

Don’t become unbalanced.  Read the Bible, study the Word of God.  Pray to the Lord and give Him your allegiance. 

The Rock on which you stand is not unbalanced, it is secure and will hold you through all kinds of difficulties.  The Rock on which you take refuge is the Almighty God, who is your heavenly Father and who loves you through His Son, our Savior and Redeemer.

Father, I thank You for sending Your Son to be our Savior and Redeemer.  I praise Your Name for quickening my heart and for placing me in the Rock so that I have no fear with You as my stronghold.   

SABBATH REST

We enjoy camping.  While our method of camping is certainly not “roughing it”, we do enjoy the retreat into the RV and the varied scenery that we encounter in different campgrounds that we have visited across the U.S. 

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Mississinewa River, Indiana Standing along the shore looking at the 7 pillars of the Miami Nation of Indians near Peru, Indiana

Camping, getting away from the hectic schedule even we retired people have, is a marvelous way to unwind and just relax, contemplate your relationship with the Lord and with the various people in your family, church, work, etc.  And we do just that, but for the vast majority of the time, we relax.  We rest.  We just sit and look at the beautiful scenery, or we walk and get closer to it. 

Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho

There usually is no schedule and nothing that would require our attention if we didn’t want to pay attention to it.  And, at least after the campground deadline for “quiet time”, there is the solitude that comes from being in God’s creation, simply soaking in the silence and then the sounds of the evening. Rest for the mind, rest for the body, and rest for the soul.

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Colorado National Monument, Grand Junction, Colorado

God knows that we need rest – He made us and knows us intimately.  He knows that nonstop work is harmful to us, just about as harmful to us as nonstop idleness.  He commanded that we stop work and rest on the 7th day, the Sabbath, the day that He declared to be holy unto the Lord. 

In giving the Ten Commandments to Moses, God said:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.  For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Exodus 20:8-11

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River in Yellowstone National Park

In the Garden of Eden things were wonderful – Adam and Eve were not subject to the difficulties that sin introduced into the world.  However, once they were banished from the Garden and subject to sin, God had to set out commandments so that His people would know His moral law. 

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.”

Psalm 19:7-9

Consider what the Psalmist says about keeping the law of the Lord.  The soul is revived, the simple become wise, the heart rejoices, the eyes are enlightened, not to mention that the fear (reverence and awe) of the Lord endures forever, and His rules are true and righteous. 

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Badlands National Park, Interior, South Dakota

Needless to say, these commandments are not just for the Old Testament folks!  While the New Testament Christians are not “under the law”, the commandments reflect how our God wants us to live, and we are told of the benefits of following the commands of our God.  Surely, we must obey them even in the 21st century. 

[I realize that there are many in service professions that must work on the weekend, and that includes the day called the “Sabbath” or for the Christian on Sunday, the first day of the week;  but for those folks, there should be another day on which they look to their Savior dedicating their time and energy to Him.]

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Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming

God understands that we need that time to recalibrate our lives and to refocus so that we are looking to God as the source of life and all that it has to offer.  Contrary to our world’s culture and Hollywood, we are not the center of the universe, God is.  He is due our reverence, loyalty and love.

Rest is not only a subject of the commandments — Jesus had some poignant words about rest as well.  In one of the most beautiful passages in Matthew, Jesus says:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Rest for your souls.  That, my Beloved, is what our culture is longing for and which they will not find in materialism, philosophies, or any place other than God.  Don’t be deceived by anything that promises joy, comfort and rest without reliance on God, the Father Almighty.  It is in His arms that rest and relief from sin can be achieved.  He is the author of rest and it is only through Him that it can be received.

Father, I praise Your Name for the rest that comes only from You through Jesus Christ, my Savior and Redeemer.  For those who seek this rest, I pray that You would grant them Your Spirit to show them the way, through Christ our Lord, I pray.