1 : A space or opening made by or as if by splitting.
2 : A usually V-shaped indented formation : a hollow between ridges
When our now-grown children were in elementary school we lived on the southern coast of Oregon for a few years. The entire coast of Oregon is very rugged and rocky; however, the southern coast is marked by huge rock formations on the sandy beaches and in the water. Some of these rocks are so big that they are a challenge to rock climbers -- others are small enough that the average person can climb up and sit on the top of them. We lived 5 blocks from the beach and it was not unusual to find our family on the beach. The locals told us that it would get old, we would adjust to the idea of living near the ocean and we would discontinue our frequent treks to the beach. While the eager pilgrimages of our first days there settled into less frequent excursions, the beach never became routine and ordinary to us. There were many impromptu trips to the beach as well as the thoughtfully planned and carefully executed hours in the sand with picnic basket in hand and our dog beside us.
Our years there in that little coastal town were filled with the usual joys of life - birthday and holiday celebrations, visits from out-of-town friends and family, times for our family (or just the two of us) to get away from the house, phone and doorbell for a while to run and play in the wide open spaces of sand and sea. We have such happy memories and so many stories of our times together on the beach. Many of the big rocks have clefts - or openings - in them. We loved to play hide-and-seek in, around and on the rocks. Of course we had rules and boundaries for the safety of our family. Many times I climbed up on a rock to sit and watch my children play just below me.
While we have such great memories of those years, they were not easy years in our lives and we often found ourselves at the beach. Sometimes we just sat in the car to watch the waves and pour our hearts out to God -- sometimes we walked in the open air to talk and pray together for guidance, direction, courage and strength. The beach often became a place of communion with our God, strength for our day and a place where He spoke to our weary souls.
The big rocks with their deep clefts were a visual illustration of His words to Moses, "And it shall come to pass, while my glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by." Exodus 33:22. You see, God told Moses and the Israelites that no one could look on Him and His glory and live -- He was a holy God. This may seem harsh or unfair, but God loved them so much He made provision for their protection when His glory passed in front of them. He loved Moses so much that God said HE would put Moses in the cleft of the rock and cover him with His own hand - to protect Moses. Moses didn't hide from God in the cleft of the rock. God put him there and then covered him with His own powerful, Almighty hand -- the hand that flung the stars into space, the hand that put the sun and the moon in their places. How many times has God put you and me in the cleft of a rock and covered us with His hand because He loves us?
Fanny Crosby, the writer of one of my favorite hymns, said it like this.
A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life with the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.
A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
He taketh my burden away;
He holdeth me up, and I shall not be moved,
He giveth me strength as my day.
With numberless blessings each moment He crowns,
And filled with His fullness divine,
I sing in my rapture, oh, glory to God
For such a Redeemer as mine!
When clothed in His brightness,
Transported I rise to meet Him in clouds of the sky,
His perfect salvation, His wonderful love
I’ll shout with the millions on high.
There is no safer place than the cleft of the rock when the storms pass by; there is no greater sense of security than when God Himself places you there and covers you with His hand.
Photo: Bandon Beach - Bandon, Oregon - courtesy of Flickr