“You get to choose which side of me you live on…”
Petra tou Romiou is a huge rock in the sea just off the coast of Cyprus. We took some friends to visit it at the weekend and as we stood on the cliff looking down I was struck by the difference in shape and nature of the two sides of it – the one facing the sea and the one protected from it.
The side exposed to the prevailing wind and the waves is almost vertical, bare rock, constantly attacked by waves from the sea. The protected, ‘leeward’, side slopes gently towards the beach and has patches of moss and even sometimes some wildflowers on it.
As I looked at it I heard God – my rock – say, “you get to choose which side of me you live on”
It’s interesting to think that God is a rock like this one, with a leeward and a windward side. On a clear, calm day intrepid young people climb up and sit in the sunshine at the top of the rock. They sunbathe there and I imagine, enjoy a wonderful view. But in a storm, as waves crash endlessly against the base of the rock, you would definitely want to be sheltering on the leeward side.
I love the picture of God as a rock and one of my very favourite lines in the message translation is from Psalm 62:
“He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul.”
That’s my God: unmoveable, unchanging, strong and solid. A firm place to stand and a shelter from the storms of life.
There can be no doubt that when storms come (as they always will, even here in sunny Cyprus) it is better to be standing in the shelter of the rock than out on the beach. But I’d never thought before about choosing to stand in the shelter of God’s protection rather than on the ‘stormward side’.
My pride would often rather have me out in the storm fighting my own battles, demanding justice and vindication in the face of the wind and waves. The whisper in this picture is of God inviting me to step out of those battles and into the protection of his leeward side.
But that’s hard. Somehow to my fragile heart it seems cowardly and a bit out-of-control to trust God to handle the battle for me, to step in behind him and not to try to fight my own fight.
And yet… when I look at this picture I can see how foolish it is to think that I am the one better able to face up to the onslaught of the storm. There is only one sensible place to be in this picture, and it’s definitely not out attempting to defend myself (or the rock) against the waves!
I’m suddenly aware that there is a choice to made here… to conciously step into the leeward side of the rock… to know that to admit that I am weaker than God and need his protection is actually a strong choice – and a wise one.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress I shall not be shaken.
You might hear God saying something else through this picture… but if you hear him calling you to step out of the battle for your own reputation, or acceptance, or vindication, then have courage, and step into the leeward side.