When I hear the word refuge, I have a temporary physical reaction: a deep breath, a relaxed posture, and my eyes momentarily drift closed. A refuge is a place of complete unburdening, the ability to let go of everything that is weighing down my heart and my mind.
And then, I feel frustration, anger, and bitterness. Why is God only letting me have refuge so infrequently, for a few seconds here and there? Why can I not carry that sense of refuge with me like I used to when dealing with difficult situations?
An excellent friend pointed out to me a couple days ago that it might be a good idea for me to forget about what things used to be like for me and look toward the future instead. She is absolutely right. I think it's healthy for me to want to examine why I am in the place I currently am in, but not for me to use it as more fuel for any anger and bitterness I have towards God. So yes, I have felt as if God is holding out on me, letting me see glimpses of what I desire so badly, but always keeping complete refuge and unburdening just out of reach. But now I want to look at my past as a way to understand where I am at present so that I can move on.
It's not that I expect my circumstances to be easy because I have faith in God, because I don't. But, ever since things started getting difficult between God and I way back in college, I've felt like God is allowing dozens of stressors and horrible circumstances to pound away at my faith and sense of well-being without providing me that sense of refuge - that feeling that I have somewhere I can retreat to in a moment and experience safety and peace in the midst of chaos.
Maybe I haven't looked for it hard enough (more on that in a later post) or in the right places. Maybe there really haven't been many opportunities for refuge after all. Maybe my memory is too short and I'm too quickly forgetting the times when I have been able to unburden completely.
Whatever the reason, I realize that my heart has become hardened towards God because I have perceived a lack of refuge so often since my freshman year of college. After a while, I think I quit looking for God to provide refuge and even stopped asking for it. (If you want to read more about the process of hardening my heart, read the entry from July 19 called "Psalm 1").