There Is A Refuge

We sang about heaven yesterday morning. One of the songs, probably not the most theological in nature, was a real toe tapper. In what is normally a non-clapping church, some were even moved to assume the “clappetory” position and make a joyful noise to the Lord with their hands as well was with their voice. One senior saint couldn’t keep herself from dancing before the Lord — well, maybe dancing is overstating it a bit, but the joy of the Lord was enough to set her feet moving and her body swaying. Did I mention we were singing about heaven?

I have often thought, and sometimes remarked to the congregation, what an unbeliever might think to be in our midst and watch a group of people standing and singing together at 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning.  Much less singing with smiles on their faces and joy in their heart as they declare,

“When I die, hallelujah by and by! I’ll fly away!” 

Written by Albert E. Brumley. Lyrics © Albert E. Brumley & Sons


Or not . . .

The wicked is overthrown through his evildoing,
   but the righteous finds refuge in his death.

(Proverbs 14:32 ESV)

At first read, it might sound like the righteous finds refuge in the wicked’s death. But that doesn’t make sense. But for some, neither does it make sense that someone might find refuge in their own death. “When I die, hallelujah by and by! I’ll fly away!”

But that’s the way of Wisdom. “Even in death the righteous have a refuge” (NIV). They are “trustful” in death (YLT). They have hope (AV).

Why? Because the Source of their righteousness conquered death. The One who bore the wrath for their sin on the cross, so that He could justly credit His holiness to their account, rose from the dead on the third day.

Where O’ death is your victory? No where!

What’s more the One who defeated death made a promise to those who are declared righteous by faith.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.” ~ Jesus

(John 14:2b-3 ESV)

Let not your hearts be troubled. The righteous finds refuge in his death. Knowing that where Jesus is, they will be also. “When I die, hallelujah by and by! I’ll fly away!”

There is a refuge for the people of God. Such that, though we mourn through the ugliness of death, though we figure out how to work through the sorrow of separation, though we endure the lasting effects of loneliness when someone has gone, we do not grieve as those who have no hope (1Thess. 4:13). But as those who are sure of refuge.

We sang about heaven yesterday morning. And we shifted from top tapping to hand raising.

When I stand before Your throne
Dressed in glory not my own
What a joy I’ll sing of on that day
No more tears or broken dreams
Forgotten is the minor key
Everything as it was meant to be

And we will worship, worship
Forever in Your presence we will sing
We will worship, worship You
An endless hallelujah to the King

Songwriters: Chris Tomlin / Jonas Myrin /
Matthew James Redman / Timothy John Wanstall

Endless Hallelujah lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group,
BMG Rights Management

“When I die, hallelujah by and by! I’ll fly away!”

Weird. Wonderfully, marvelously weird!

By His grace. For His glory.

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2 Responses to There Is A Refuge

  1. Thanks for your thoughts and inspiration, we are a peculiar people, those who can rejoice in what many fear.

  2. Brent Allan says:

    Thanks Pete. I too was encouraged by yesterday’s praise, with all the songs. I mentioned to Patti that I wanted to ask you for the playlist or link to download them. The purpose is to play them (using iPhone and BT speaker, Spotify if needed) for our 92 yr old close friend we visit in an adult home. Sara loves the Lord with all her heart, loves music and remembers lyrics, and while her body is failing, her hope is in The Lord and his promises. If you could send me those songs and lyrics, we will have our own worship service with her. I expect her eyes will be closed but her heart and spirit singin’ in the aisle. Thanks!

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