A young man named Gus was taking a walk through the English countryside one day in 1753 when a sudden storm swept across the landscape. Running for cover, he spotted a wide rock formation with an opening where he sought shelter until the storm passed. He had been fortunate to find this hiding place so quickly, and he began to muse on the connection between his shelter and God’s help in life’s storms.
As he contemplated this scenario, the words for a poem began to form in his mind, but he had no paper on which to write them. Looking down on the floor of the cave-like structure, he saw a playing card—considered a sinful thing by the young cleric. Nevertheless, he picked it up and began to formulate his thoughts and write them on the card.
Sometime later, the life of the writer of those words, Augustus Toplady was cut short by tuberculosis. On August 11, 1778, he passed from this life and was buried in Tottenham Court Chapel in London. In his memory, a stone was erected; it was inscribed with the words he had jotted down on that playing card years before:
Rock of ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which ﬂowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
These words had become the beloved Christian hymn, “Rock of Ages.” As Gus found shelter under a rock formation, so you and I can find “shelter” (forgiveness) from the “storm of sin” in the Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ.
Jesus endured God’s wrath against sin on our behalf by dying on the cross. He paid the price for our redemption, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). Through His blood, we receive the “double cure:” We are cleansed from the guilt and the dominion of sin.
We find shelter in the Rock of Ages when we place our trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:26-27).
Creekwood church of Christ