A familiar hymn to most
Christians, Rock of Ages, was written by Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778, and set to
music by Thomas Hastings, 1784-1872.
I remember singing this hymn as a little girl, sitting in my grandmother’s living room. Every evening in the summer she dutifully corralled all of her many grandchildren for a mandatory time of singing, Bible reading and prayer. As young children we belted out this and other hymns, oblivious of their rich significance.
Augustus wrote this hymn when he found shelter in the cleft of a rock during a ferocious storm. As a man wraps his cloak firmly around himself, Augustus wrapped the entire Christian gospel with finesse, into this simple hymn.
He was not the first to come up with this analogy of the Rock. The imagery of the Rock of Ages was used by the Holy Spirit at least 119 times in the Bible. It makes for a fascinating word study.
Like developing film in a darkroom – each newly discovered reference to the Rock in the Bible, improved my understanding of who this Rock really was. The more I read the more the blurry, shadowy image became sharp and crisp.
When I created this sculpture, I was eager to reassure myself of the faithfulness of the Rock of Ages, Jesus, in whom I was placing all my trust. Made from a combination of glass and polymer clay, it gave me a new awareness of the importance of cleaving.
I mused as I worked, that deliberately calling on and clinging to His strength is what will carry me through any and every trial.
My personal lessons of the Rock of Ages:
"For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God?" Ps 18:31
• He can be counted on to be unmoving, unchanging and completely dependable.
“Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.” Ps 71:3
• He can be surprising.
“But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you." Ps 81:16
• He can give you stability in a confusing world.
“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Ps 40: 2
• He has the power to dynamically, unpredictably and favorably change my circumstances.
“... who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water.” Ps 114:8
• He is my impenetrable fortress – nothing can touch my life unless it comes through Him.
“My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.” Ps 62:7
• He has the ability to lift my sights higher. He shows me the way to soar in the midst of trouble.
“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Ps 61:2
The above is just a small sampling of scriptures that speak of our wonderful God. In the new Testament, this Rock is Jesus, who became human to demonstrate his trustworthiness in a way we could understand.
Can we then do any less than accept the invitation in Ps 95:1?
“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.”
It is my prayer that each of you reading this will also find your place, as described in the verse below.
"There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.” Ex 33:21
There like Moses, as we cleave to our special cleft of the Rock, we will discover the Glory that He desires for all mankind to experience.