Thursday, June 9, 2011


When I was a United Methodist pastor serving a church that used the United Methodist Hymnal in worship, one of the songs that I liked to sing along with the congregation was called "Saranam, Saranam."  This was a hymn that had been translated from Pakistani with a Punjabi melody.  The word "saranam" which is said many times during its singing translates somewhat into "save me" or "refuge".  The song is a testimony that the singer can go to God in times of distress and find the help that is sought that will bring the person to safety and help.  The song has a very singable melody and expresses a confidence in God that is uplifting.

"Jesus, Savior, Lord, lo to thee I fly; Saranam, Saranam, Saranam; thou the Rock, my refuge that's higher than I: Saranam, Saranam, Saranam."  The word almost sounds like a mantra that can be repeated by one who is meditating or one who is praying.  O God, be my refuge, my rock, my hiding place.  There are times when we feel as if we need a place to hide away from the cares of life.  The overwhelming stressful times of life can cause us to be filled with fear and anxiety.  It is at those times when we can say "Saranam." 

Each of us is different from the other.  We all handle stress and difficult times differently.  For some, the small things in life do not matter but when a big event happens, they seem to fall apart.  For others it is the opposite, they may get upset at the driver that cuts them off in traffic but then hardly react when a death in the family occurs.  Some people are geared psychologically so that major trauma does not cause them nearly as much distress as it does for other people but the daily grind of life takes its toil on them. 

I remember an old gospel song from my childhood that was often sung as "a special" by someone during the church service.  Its words said, "How long has it been since you talked to the Lord and told him your heart's hidden secrets?  How long since you prayed?  How long since you stayed on your knees till the light shone through?  How long has it been since your mind felt at ease?  How long since your heart knew no burden?  Well, you call him your friend, how long has it been since you knew that he cared for you?"  I can still sing that song and it touches me becauses it reminds me that we need to talk to God daily and ask for God's presence to be made known in our lives.  God is always present with us but we often forget that God is nearby. 

Saranam--a strange sounding word from another culture, but a word that reminds us that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1).  God is the hiding place where we can be shielded from life's attacks and we can find strength for whatever may come to us.  May the God of peace keep your minds and hearts today and each day. 

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