We love a safe, comfortable place. A man-cave is just a recent expression of what we all know we need: a place to be, to rest, to be safe from whatever exhausts or threatens us.
We rarely think of God as a safe place. I often find myself imagining that God is monolithic-cold, big, impersonal, closed off from us. Or, if I permit a personal image of God in my mind, I naturally envision someone who is morally demanding, displeased with me, or even threatening. Neither image depicts God as a refuge!
Then there’s the Bible—which in its entirety is a testament to quite the opposite notion. From creation to the cross, God consistently shows himself to be for us: endlessly giving, condescending, (in the truest meaning of the term), gentle and peaceful. God creates generously with the peaceful nonviolence of a simple word—and he creates the heavens and earth and sea as a welcoming place, meant to be filled with life.
Even after the corruption of sin, God shows himself even more to be a refuge. Consider the wounds of the risen Jesus, in hands, feet, and side—remarkably remaining. They are the physical signs that God is open to us. Jesus tells Thomas to physically put his hands and fingers in Jesus’ glorified wounds. What a sign that God wants to be one with us. He wants friendship with us. He allows himself to be vulnerable to us so that we can find a refuge in him.
The great prayer called the “Anima Christi” sums up the meaning of Jesus’ wounds as a place of refuge. One line says, “Within thy wounds, hide me.” The wounds of Jesus are like mystical doors, portals to the truth of God.
Try this prayer and the “making gains” action below and allow God to make gains in your life.
Merciful God, thank you for your openness to me. Thank you for the wounds of Jesus, which forever stand as the sign that you will always be my refuge. I offer you my wounds: all the ways I’ve been hurt by others, and the ways I’ve hurt myself. I invite you into the wounds of my emotions, my mind, my body, my heart. Draw me into your own wounds so that I may live confidently, boldly trusting in so great a love. Help me to remain in his beautiful wounds. And if I freak out and run away, help me to return quickly. Amen.
Making Gains: Pray the Anima Christi. Memorize one line each day this week. In a little over a week, you’ll have the whole thing memorized.