Thought for the Day by Nigel Greenwood (St Chad’s)
PSALMS / ISAIAH / SAMUEL : THE ROCK OF LIFE
On a recent walk with friends, we struggled through a marshy area to reach higher and firmer dry ground on which the largest rock in Yorkshire is located on moors above Keighley – the so called ‘Hitching Stone’. From the start, about half a mile away, it was simply a distant block but as we got closer it dominated the landscape.
Views from the top were stunning, looking over heather moorland to dales villages and the mass of Pendle Hill lurking in the distance – all part of God’s formation.
The symbolic solidity of the Hitching Stone above the surrounding countryside gave a powerful image of God’s presence above and indeed amongst our humanity – but going up the final slope and nearing the plateau, the effect was overwhelming.
Earlier in the day, we had walked along the nearby escarpment of Earl Crag to view the monuments of Wainman’s Pinnacle and Lund’s Tower.
Impressive structures, but surely over-shadowed by the magnificence of God’s creation – for Isaiah reminds us: ‘Go into the rocks, hide in the ground from the fearful presence of the Lord and the splendour of His majesty!’ Perhaps this is illustrated by a silhouette of the tower against the mottled skyline as the sun goes down.
Scripture contains many references to God as our rock, for Psalm 18 both challenges and reassures us: ‘Who is God besides the Lord and who is the Rock except our God?’ – then: ‘The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Saviour!’.
Samuel reinforces this: ‘There is no one holy like the Lord, indeed, there is no one besides You, nor is there any rock like our God’. We hear in Psalm 89: ‘You are my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation’. There are also many references to God as our ‘corner-stone’, as in Isaiah: ‘Therefore thus says the Lord God, behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly corner-stone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed’.
As we turn to God in our current pandemic, knowing He is our corner-stone, we take both comfort and strength from further words in scripture: ‘The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation; my stronghold in whom I find protection; He is the power that saves me, and my place of safety’.
This link to the hymn ‘Rock of Ages’ shows the true majesty and solidity of our rock: