What an awesome picture of what happens as we set out on a quest to pursue the heart of our Father:
5 What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
6 When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
7 They will continue to grow stronger,
and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.
We need to have a heart for pilgrimage–we have to commit to the journey and process it takes to develop a relationship with the most complex being we’ll ever encounter. To think we could solve the riddle that is our Lord with a quick devotional meditation each day and a 30 minute sermon on the weekend must be a huge insult to God.
One of my Focus on the Family professors spent much of our first class teaching us that the discipleship process is a journey and not a trip. There were a lot of semantic distinctions he made, but among those I remember were that journeys are long and unpredictable. We don’t necessarily know the destination when we set out on a journey, nor do we necessarily know how long it will take to arrive at that destination. They’re dangerous, too, with all sorts of unexpected obstacles cropping up. Trips… well, they’re all mapped out, you packed all the supplies you’ll need (and then some) and you know precisely how many days you have to take off work. They’re very domestic and not at all wild.
God is not domestic. Nor is our journey into Christlikeness.
But when we finally do set out on that pilgrimage to Jerusalem, look what happens: the places that used to stir up weeping… they become refreshing springs. And we’ll continue to grow stronger… we’ll pick up momentum as we go. It just gets better!
What motivates a person to finally set out on the journey… the pilgrimage that will ultimately take the rest of his/her life?
1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
2 I long, yes, I faint with longing
to enter the courts of the Lord…
10 A single day in your courts
is better than a thousand anywhere else!
I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God
than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
He’s got to grip your heart. He has to become your obsession. But the thing is, you can’t make it happen. You can only make your heart accessible to Him. And then He takes over. If you try to muster and create passion for the Lord, it will only be perverted and likely turned into ugly religion or emotionalism.
But when you really get to a point where you desire Him… where you heart aches to experience intimacy with Him like you read about in Scripture. And when you commit to pursuing His heart and agree to do so on His terms, that gives Him something to work with.
Soft clay in the hands of a Master Potter is a beautiful thing. And beautiful things result.