The couple I wrote about in yesterday’s post were always holding hands – especially in church. It was a great encouragement to younger married couples that people in their 80s could sit in church holding hands like young lovers.
Once, while visiting them, I mentioned that they were such an encouragement to the couples in the congregation with their example. To which the wife replied with a laugh, “I hold his hand to stop him from fiddling!”
I don’t think that was completely true. They were an amazingly devoted couple.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
In a previous vocation I had the privilege of officiating at the funerals of many older saints. Quite a few of these had gone through wartime experiences in Europe or Indonesia. They had been through the worst that humanity can inflict upon their brothers and sisters.
A Psalm that was often requested at their funerals was Psalm 91. It encapsulates both the horror of war and the beauty of God’s grace. These people were able to declare in life and in death, “The Lord is my refuge.” They had the confidence, in a bombing raid or in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, that nothing could remove them from their place in the eternal family of God. Incidentally, it was this solid expression of faith that was lived by the Moravians in the face of danger that impressed and impacted John Wesley so deeply a few centuries earlier.
One story I remember clearly: on a visit to an elderly white-haired saint, I noticed a small grubby book, in an otherwise immaculate bookcase. I commented on its incongruity. This elderly man, while holding his wife’s hand, told me its story. This was the Bible he kept in a tropical Japanese prison camp. His wife and children were in a separate camp. He kept it closely wherever he went.It was his constant companion. He would have been severely punished, even killed, if he had been found with it. The worst moments were snap inspections. So when an inspection was called he quickly scratched a hole in the dirt and stood on the book. It was a precious memento that had pride of place in his bookcase. It was a reminder of God’s centrality in his and his family’s life. And he added with a wink, “I could always say I stood firmly on the Word of God.”
May we also dwell in the Most High by “standing” firmly on the Word of God.