Text: Psalms 142: 5
I cry to you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”
This Psalm is written by David when he was being chased by Saul and his men. David was running for his life. David had quick victories, one after the other before this. From a shepherd he became a hero of the masses after killing Goliath. He was trusted by the King Saul and had his favour. But once jealousy took over Saul, David was on the run. He lost his wife Michal. On the run David wanted to be with his mentor Samuel. But Samuel was too old. In his escape he had the comfort of a never ending friendship of Jonathan. But he still had to run Last he came to the cave. All that he had near and dear to him were lost.He was in this cave called Adullam.(1 Samuel 22) Death roams free outside the cave. He is completely helpless. In one sense he is bitter. In this Cave of failure he sits and writes this beautiful Psalm. If you look at this Psalm in entirety,we see the words of desperation in this. Everything is lost. There is no hope.In such a point he encounters the cave. He realizes cave is not his refuge. In the cave he realizes “You are my refuge.” God is our refuge.
Son of David i.e. Jesus Christ lost all his credibility. The friends and disciples deserted him. The people who glorified him when they witnessed his miracles called him a fraud. His enemies got the better of him.They crucified him. After crucifying him they disposed his body in a cave(tomb). Here they thought that they had defeated him. But in the Cave where everyone thinks all is lost, God resurrects the dead. When we feel everything is lost and there is no hope, that is where in the cave of failure God brings about a resurrection. This is the truth and power of resurrection. God is our refuge. When we are in the cave of devastation, where we feel all is lost, we feel like the disciples where they too closed the doors in fear of the Jews. It was a cave experience for them. (John 20:19- 23). But in the midst of the cave experience the Risen Christ comes to them and says “Peace be with you.” It is in such cave experience we realize God is our refuge.
If anybody who is troubled today, feels like he is in a cave, my brothers and sisters, God is talking to you. Everything is not lost. God is our refuge. He is our strength. You may be disturbed and devastated, but in this cave, like David, let us too realize “You are my refuge.” This is not just fake optimism or power of positive thinking. This is the promise of God that is experienced by his saints. God is ready to hold us. The power of Resurrection is awaiting us. It will be our experience as well.
Let me introduce you to a man that by providence became friends with me on Facebook. His name is Father Michael Lapsley. I got curious and researched about this incredible man. Fr Michael was born in New Zealand and was Ordained as a Priest in Australia on 2 June 1949. He is an Anglican Priest who joined the religious order of Society of the Sacred Mission (SSM). In 1973 he arrived in Durban, South Africa, as an undergraduate student. Soon thereafter, during the height of apartheid repression, he became chaplain to students at bothblack and white universities in Durban. In 1976, he began to speak out on behalf of schoolchildren who were being shot, detained and tortured.
Fr Michael, as he is known, was taking a stand against apartheid in his role as national chaplain to Anglican students, a position he held at the time. Because of his position against the ruling government of South Africa, in September 1976, he was expelled from the country. He went to live in Lesotho, where he continued his studies and became a member of the African National Congress and a chaplain to the organisation in exile. During this period he travelled the world, mobilizing faith communities, in particular, to oppose apartheid and support the liberation struggle of Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. After a police raid in Maseru in 1982 in which 42 people were killed, he moved to Zimbabwe. It was here that in 1990, three months after ANC leader Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, he was sent a letter bomb by the Civil Cooperation Bureau, a covert outfit of the people who were against him because of his anti- apartheid stands. The letter bomb was hidden inside two religious magazines. Thanks to the letter bomb Fr Michael lost both hands and the sight in one eye , and was seriously burnt. This was his cave experience. His enemies thought they had defeated him. But Cave is the place of resurrection. This vibrant priest did not stop. He carried on.
In 1993, he became Chaplain of the Trauma Centre for Victims of Violence and Torture in Cape Town, which assisted the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). This work led to the establishment, in 1998,of the Institute for Healing of Memories (IHOM) in Cape Town. Father Michael knew the danger of devastation and wounded memories. This man who was in a cave became the wounded healer. Today the Institute of Healing of memories plays a pivotal role in helping people cope with traumas. The people who feel they are in a cave. This institute is pivotal in promoting religious and racial harmony.
It is when we read stories like this that we experience the power of resurrection. Such people who are wounded and bruised in life direct us to the Resurrected Christ who had wounds. ‘Redeeming the Past: From Freedom Fighter To Healer’ is an apt title for an autobiography of an incredible man who in the midst of devastation showed the world the power of Resurrection.
“You are my Refuge”