Sunday, October 12, 2014

Psalm 84 (NKJV) ~ To the Chief Musician. On an instrument of Gath. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.

How lovely is Your tabernacle,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You. Selah

I’ve noticed over the years that every denomination and varying worship style has its songs about heaven. We all long for permanence, for a place to belong, for that haven at the end of the long road where we can linger and soak up rest, comfort, and beauty ... and that’s precisely what heaven—the courts of the Lord—is for the believer. Think of the most beautiful hotel or resort you’ve visited. What made you love it? The exquisite d├ęcor? Solicitous wait staff? Delicious food and comfortable furniture? A scenic setting? Heaven is all those, and more ... but the journey is yet a while longer.

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
Each one appears before God in Zion.

Whose heart is set on pilgrimage ... whose heart is reconciled to the journey, indeed, who understands that this life is all about the journey, and not any particular destination. This one verse has done more to change my perspective over the past year or two. So often I fight the process God has us in, or chafe against the tedium of the walk with Him. I just want to get there—to achieve whatever He has for me, to be what He wants me to be, and skip the journey itself. It took years for me to realize that it’s the journey that shapes us, that teaches us, that gives the us the moments to savor and treasure alongside the heartbreak that drives us back into the arms of the Lord. There’s no shortcutting that. No teleporting. We all have to make the journey, one weary step after another.

But while the tedium must be endured, God gives us strength—joy—in Him. Indeed, we can go from strength to strength, and even our valleys of weeping—the literal meaning of Baca—provide the precious water that washes us clean, refreshes us in our thirst, and transforms a barren desert into a haven of lush, green fruitfulness.

And we will each arrive, in our proper time, at the ultimate haven—in person before the Lord.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
O God, behold our shield,
And look upon the face of Your anointed.

10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.

I am reminded of that verse in Jeremiah that assures us that even in captivity, God’s promise for His people is one to make them prosperous and not destroy them. We may not be able to see it in every single circumstance, but it’s no less true even when things are difficult. Even when they are devastating.

Maybe especially then.

12 O Lord of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You!

Indeed, Lord, we are Yours ... help us to trust in You more.

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