God Is Our Refuge

I’m sure many of you who read this weekly devotional remember the hymn, "Where Could I Go But to the Lord.” Written in 1940 by J. B. Coats, it captures the essence of dependence on God. The title came about from an earlier encounter with his dying neighbor, Joe Keyes. Coats stood by his neighbor’s bedside as he contemplated the question of where he would go when he died. Keyes' simple response stated a truth that all believers cling to: "Where could I go but to the Lord?"

It was some time after that when these eight simple words gave birth to a hymn that has endured for generations, encouraging hearts every time it is sung.

What gives this simple hymn its power? I believe it is our inherent need to be with our Creator in whose image we are made. (Genesis 1:27)

C.S. Lewis explained this longing in his book Mere Christianity. "If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

Not worldly wisdom, material wealth or all the fame in the world can change this truth-- our satisfaction and our salvation rests solely in God's unfailing love and grace. When Mr. Keyes faced the reality of his mortality, he turned instinctively to the Lord.

But what if we are not near the end of our life – this hymn can also comfort us in these trying times. The Apostle Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 affirm this—that in every trial, in every affliction, God stands as our ever-present source of comfort and solace.
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

Embedded within the verses of "Where Could I Go?" lies a powerful reminder of who we owe our ultimate allegiance to. We may find temporary comfort in the kindness of our Christian brothers and sister, friends, and family, yet when our spirits yearn for divine nourishment, there remains only one refuge—God Himself. He and only He can satisfy our deepest cravings, only He can nourish our weary souls from the abundance of His love and grace.

I especially like the chorus that echoes the heart's cry of every pilgrim on life's journey: "Seeking a refuge for my soul." It’s in His presence that we find rest, it is in His embrace that we discover peace that surpasses all understanding.

Maybe you are in a place where you are asking, "Where do I go?" Lord, I pray that the simple words of this hymn help us relinquish our grip on the false security of things that pass away and place our trust wholly in the One who holds the keys to eternity. Amen

Living below, in this old sinful world
Hardly a comfort can afford
Striving alone, to face temptation's sword
Where could I go but to the Lord?

Where could I go, oh where could I go?
Seeking a refuge for my soul
Needing a friend, to help me in the end
Where could I go, but to the Lord? 

Neighbors are kind, I love them everyone
We get along in sweet accord
But when my soul, needs manna from above
Where could I go but to the Lord?Where could I go, oh where could I go?

Seeking a refuge for my soul
Needing a friend, to help me in the end
Where could I go, but to the Lord?
Where could I go, but to the Lord?
Where could I go, but to the Lord?

J.B. Coats

Credit: Ron Kelley 

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