March 9, 2009



By Jeff Hochstetler, admission counselor

THIS WEEK’S THEME: My rock and my redeemer

DEVOTIONAL: I have been given many presents over the years, but one gift in particular is especially important to me. It is a hymnal given to me by my church the spring before I went off to college. Books given as presents often have a special message written on the inside that offers word of advice, but my hymnal does not. Instead, everyone in my congregation signed their name in the margins of their favorite hymn. When singing a hymn, I often think of those whose favorite hymn it is and say a short prayer for them.

When focusing on this week’s theme, “My rock and my redeemer,” I found myself poring over the well-known hymn, “In the rifted Rock I’m resting.” The hymn is a confession, proclaiming that Jesus — our Redeemer and Rock — creates a space for us where we can find shelter and rest from the storms of life. The image of Jesus creating a space to hold us is a powerful metaphor. As we are protected safely in this space created for us, we find Jesus placing himself between us and the storm. Storms often come in many forms. For me, life’s storms this past year have included moving, stress, strained relationships, limited personal time and dealing with my mother’s cancer. But amidst the life’s brewing storms, I have found solace in God’s redeeming Rock. Printed below is the first verse of the hymn. May it be your prayer as you go throughout the week.

In the rifted Rock I’m resting,
safely sheltered I abide.
There no foes nor storms molest me,
while within the cleft I hide.
Now I’m resting, sweetly resting,
in the cleft once made for me.
Jesus, blessed Rock of ages,
I will hide myself in thee.



Comments (29)

  1. Dear Jeff,
    I appreciated your words of wisdom. These are stormy times and the world’s tempest has the ability to overwhelm all of us. But it is only hidden in the One who came to save us all. Whether it is the small cares that reach us in the whirl of our daily lives or the crises of life in which there is no where to turn except for Our Redeemer. We cling to the Rock knowing that regardless of the fierceness of the storm, we will be preserved and kept safe.

    Linda Saleski March 9, 2009 |
  2. Jeff, Thanks for your devotional. Your family and Mother are often in my prayers. Your family has been a gift to our congregation at Oak Grove. Praise God for the resting place he provides each of us.

    Gladene Hershberger March 9, 2009 |
  3. THank you Jeff, what a wonderful positive way to start this week.

    Pam Harrison March 9, 2009 |
  4. This one is especially meaningful to me this morning. I have just experienced the sudden death of my mother, who lived a full life of 83 years. The past week has been one of holding on tighter to Christ and claiming his promises for my life as my Godly mother demonstrated in hers. This song was one that my parents sang often and held on to in their life. I have received a blessing from reading this devotional today as I face the many tasks ahead and caring for my father who depended on my mother for his care.

    Marcia Lehman March 9, 2009 |
  5. I am visualizing a space made just for me, in a cove in the rock against all the storms of life. Thank you, Jeff for sharing those thoughts.

    Phyllis Kehr March 9, 2009 |
  6. Jeff,

    Thank you for sending me into a new week with words of hope and comfort. The lines of another hymn made favorite to me by my father’s singing to us as children is now made more dear to me every time I hear it sung, especially, since his unexpected and untimely passing while I was in college: “Rock of Ages,cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.” I too “have found solace in God’s redeeming Rock” of the ages. Thanks.

    Jim Brenneman, President March 9, 2009 |
  7. This hymn is one of my, and my family favorites and has seen me and us thru many storms as well. It was meaningful to hear a young man getting comfort from this grand old hymn.
    Bless you for sharing this and may your storms pass and leave your roots strengthened.

    Ann March 9, 2009 |
  8. Jeff,

    Thank you for your well-written meditation. It was interesting to read about your special gift of a signed hymnal, especially after my husband’s opening thoughts for the sermon yesterday, highlighting some special gifts he’s received through the years. May you continue to rest safely in God’s rifted rock! Blessings.
    Donna Mast, co-pastor, Scottdale Mennonite Church

    Donna Mast March 9, 2009 |
  9. Thanks, Jeff. Your words, as always, are insightful and inspired.

    Matthew Hochstetler March 9, 2009 |
  10. Exactly the message I need for today and tomorrow. I need to place myself in God’s hands. Thanks for these special words which seemed written for me.

    mjlh March 9, 2009 |
  11. That piece of the hymn is beautiful. I feel a powerful part of the Christian tradition is being able to find such meaning and power in song, which is often also communal, helping us to feel as one when we worship.

    Sarah March 9, 2009 |
  12. Your devotional thoughts blessed my soul this Monday morning.

    Margaret Kauffman March 9, 2009 |
  13. Jeff, let me commend you for an interesting, well-written devotional. I appreciated that you included yourself, witnessing to how what you were writing was experienced in your life. This is super!

    Harold E. Bauman

    Harold E. Bauman March 9, 2009 |
  14. What a wonderful gift and idea for others in transitions- the marked hymnal.

    the carved out space in a rock is rich in grace describing both an active God and a forward looking caring God. Thank you for inviting me into that space for grace.

    Stu Buisch March 9, 2009 |
  15. I am facing financial problems,move and chronic kidney disease. It is so good to know that Jesus is there for me in the midst of storms. At Toledo Mennonite we ‘offer hymn books to those who move away. I t is good to know that others share this idea.

    Ilva Nafziger March 9, 2009 |
  16. Great personal reflections. That hymm verse it what I needed for today, trusting the Lord to provide a safe place for me to rest. God is faithful.

    Dennis Troyer March 9, 2009 |
  17. I needed this particular reading today because I am trying to learn how to deal with a strained realtionship with one mf my friends. I neede to be reminded that God, Jesus is my rock there is no greater friend than he. May God to bless you and thanl you for this gentle reminder

    Deidre Jackson March 9, 2009 |
  18. Jeff, thank you for today’s meditation and for your expressions of faith in Jesus our rock. The storm metaphor has special meaning to different people at different times in their lives. Now unfortunately even for you in your young life with the various things mentioned, and especially your mom’s sudden cancer diagnosis, things can be quite stormy. My prayer is that you will always find comfort in the Rock.

    John Rohrer March 9, 2009 |
  19. Thanks for your inspiring meditation. What a great idea
    with names inside the hymnal! This hymn is also one of my favorites. Jeff, may you continue to find comfort esp. in the face of cancer of a loved one.

    Marjorie Neufeld March 9, 2009 |
  20. What a wonderful idea to give a hymnal with the Body of belivers all signing their names by their favorite hymn!
    May you and your family feel His presence as you deal with your Mother’s illness. God be with you!

    Jane Gehman March 9, 2009 |
  21. Jeff, your meditation provided a refreshing kickoff for beginning a new week after recent stormy days. What a positive spin these words can have on our lives! Blessings, Jeff.

    HJH March 9, 2009 |
  22. Jeff, Someone forwarded this to me this morning. What a wonderful inspiration for the day. I love music and it speaks to me when scripture isn’t available at the moment. God is so awsome to speak to people in so many ways. Thanks so much. What a wonderful young man you are turning out to be. I am really proud of you.

    jmb March 10, 2009 |
  23. Thank you, Jeff, for your thoughts. They resonated with me for several reasons. One is that I have loved hymns all my life. I started singing in my church choir when I was 13, and I’m still singing over 50 years later. I graduated from Goshen many years ago and still think of Goshen as a very special college. It was at College Church that I learned the joys of singing hymns a capella. Of course it helped that Mary Oyer was leading! Another reason I was moved by your devotional is that I believe hymns are a very special part of many memorial services. At a recent service for an elderly aunt (97), we were blessed by singing several of her favorite hymns. “In the rifted rock” is a hymn that I also learned to sing in German, because it was a favorite of my Mennonite ancestors in Russia. I’ll close with this thought: I am really thankful that the hymns I loved as a child are still speaking to people today, including young people like you. God bless!

    Shirley Hsu March 11, 2009 |
  24. Jeff, your parents must be very proud of you! There is know greater joy for a parent to have their children understand where their strengh comes from, when our faith is being tested. What an encouragement you are to me, especially knowing what you are going through. May God continue to use and bless you! Love and Prayers,Ruth and family

    Ruth Lance March 11, 2009 |
  25. I wanted to let you know that I shared this devotion with some friends of mine in the US, Germany & South Africa. Almost everyone wrote back to me and said how it was just what they needed that day. Thank you for helping me help ladies who are dear to me. Blessings.

    ML Ewing March 14, 2009 |
  26. Jerry Derstiene, about ’70 graduate of GC wrote “Jesus, Rock of Ages” with this passage, as far as I can tell. He also wrote “Unity” (Jesus, help us live in peace…). He was in a band when he was a college student; can’t remember the band’s name. He’s now called J.D. something; he’s a professional songwriter.

    Anne Birky March 22, 2009 |
  27. Your quotation from Mary James’s hymn caught my eye this morning because today is the 200th anniversary of her birth. Great hymn, great truth.

    And what a thoughtful gift for a fellow going off to college, a hymn book autographed by members of the congregation next to favourite hymns. Terrific idea! (May its tribe increase!)

    Robert August 10, 2010 |
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