The thing about a refuge is that you don’t need one if everything is okay. You don’t need a Lord if you are the one in charge. You don’t need to be saved if you are safe.
A refuge means both that you are protected and that you need protecting.
I do need protecting. It’s not that I try to live outside of your righteous guidelines. It is not sin that I have done that is bringing confrontation or condemnation or consequences. But I feel ripped apart.
Arise. Awake. Act. Do something!
I want to call the world into account for all that has happened. I want justice to be given to the vulnerable women and children and power to be taken away from the selfish and wealthy.
Why can’t you just help the righteous more? Why can’t you give jobs to people who love you and are trying to serve you? You know our hearts. You know we are trying to serve you!
Yet. You are my shield. You do save me. When I am at the end of myself, at the very end, and I crouch beneath your protective hand, you do protect me.
You do see evil clearly. You will not overlook it.
Vengeance belongs to the LORD.
Anyone who plots and plans evil will have it visited upon them, eventually.
If you make trouble for others it will cause you trouble.
I will choose to give thanks in the midst of frustration and praise You for your righteousness when I don’t understand. I will choose to sing praises of your perfect love and character.
So I will rejoice that you are my refuge, rather than complaining that I need a refuge. You are my safety and my strength.
S. Jewell S. McGhee
Jewell is an artist who has come to be known also as an author. She often writes a reflection to go with her art pieces and has been paraphrasing the psalms for many years.
About the Artist
S. Jewell S. McGhee likes to call her art “painting with pencils.” She first started using colored pencils to help her mother write names on lunch bags for school. “My mom would pick matching themes for the names on our bags; all balloons, or sunrises, or sometimes just geometric shapes. She always made them so beautiful; a plain brown bag lunch was, all at once, a love note, a story, a hug, and simple colors to enlighten us for the rest of the day.” These bags also became a constant reminder that art was simple, attainable, and a necessary part of every day.
“I always start with a story.” Every time you hear a story you have a physical (tears, a chuckle, or a smile) or mental (confusion, contentment) reaction which is unable to be explained in words alone. “I like to use abstract art as a medium to dive deeply into the complicated mess of a story and discover something more about it and about myself.” She follows the flow of a story and finds the shapes and colors that express its fundamental emotions and questions.
Jewell uses her art to interpret the stories of Shakespeare, the newspaper, the Bible, and her own life. “As I grapple with Hamlet, I see lines-sharp and violent-cutting through relationships and into love. There is red: obviously for blood, but also for love (a riddle itself). A golden crown, a golden son; a golden sun breaking through ghosts, clouds, and lives to reveal blackness and blood.” How black is the blackness of hate? What texture is grace? What shape is confusion, or desperation, or promise? These are the questions these pieces ask.