Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.
Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
I didn’t include the last stanza of this song, but it’s good, too.
The whole idea of a “cleft” interests me. Moses was hidden in a cleft of a rock to protect him from the Glory of God. What a terrifying and wonderful experience that must have been. But this is not the occasion for the above song. “Let me hide myself in thee” implies that the author is afraid, distraught, undone.
It seems that God is in the business of undoing people. Moses was adopted into the greatest priveledge of his era; into Pharoah’s own home! Then, his world is turned upside-down when he finds that he is a Hebrew. He falls from the pinacle of the pyramid, so to speak, to the tomb. After this, he is cast into the desert where he becomes a lowly shepherd.
Can you imaging the feelings of inner turmoil? He must have felt confusion, rejection, and humiliation (not to mention anger!). But, it was part of God’s ‘unspoiling’ process for Moses. He was being humbled so that he could become the leader of a people. He was also being humbled in order to understand how to survive one of the most hostile environments in the world. After all, he was going to take people through it rather than sheep.
And, 40 years is a long time! Waiting and waiting. Maybe he was ruminating over thoughts of “Why God?” or feelings of total social rejection.
Our circumstances may not be similar to Moses’. We haven’t lived in a kingdom where we were next in line to ascend to a throne. We haven’t had servants at our beck-and-call. But, we can identify with the feelings that Moses felt in his fall from power.
We face some serious issues. Physical exhaustion from working long hours. A child’s rebellion. Job instability. Financial concerns that give way to desperation. Feeling overwhelmed with home and/or work life. God’s silence.
These are not always circumstances that we are subject to. They may be a result of our own actions. We lie. We make snippy remarks to our partner. We react in irritation over someone’s request. We find security in our material stability. We spend when we know it might hurt our family, justifying the expenditure. We don’t view our child as a gift, but as a curse.
And, in the case of God’s silence, we might think, “Well, if He rejects me, then I reject Him!” Our tendencies seem patterned on the Hebrews as they traveled behind Moses in the wilderness.
But we’re not alone in our rebellion. Satan is stirring us on. He amplifies negative feelings. He puts the thought in our mind, “God has abandoned me!” when Christ is right here. He takes the feelings of confusion and turns them into anger and hardness. And we comply. It’s in our nature. And, whether it’s pride, grumbling, rejection, or anger, we feel better feeling bad.
And, for all our grumbling, rejection and anger, He has provided His cross. The sense of entitlement and pride of life that causes these feelings are contrary to the humble heart God desires. This is why Jesus had to come. This is why He set aside His Glory. This is why he left the presence of angels to descend to the floor of cockroaches. Only Jesus could fulfill God’s requirement of a humble heart. “All for sin could not atone, Thou must save, and Thou alone”.
God continues to work using the difficult circumstances in life to re-create us in the image of His Son. Do you think you are all alone? Do you think you are so unique that Jesus wouldn’t cover your mistakes and sin? In fact, He knew ALL that you would do and go through in this life. He never blinked at anything he saw. He still gave up His life for you. And your life is hidden in Him.
He has cleft for our struggles, failings and sin. He has cleft for our hopelessness and despair. He has cleft to provide a place of protection during the storms of life. The doors of His church have been flung wide open to bring you and I into the fold. His “riven side” is the safety and comfort of His church. In the cleft of this Rock, Jesus, we see the Glory of God. Now and Forevermore. Amen.