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The Journey into Union With God

I long and yearn for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.

Even a sparrow finds a home, and a swallow, a nest for herself
where she places her young— near Your altars,
Lord of Hosts, my King and my God.
How happy are those who reside in Your house,
who praise You continually.
Selah

Happy are the people whose strength is in You,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a source of springwater;
even the autumn rain will cover it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength;
each appears before God in Zion.
-Psalm 84:2-7

The center of life is union with God.  We all have all kinds of things we are involved in and all sorts of relationships.  A common misconception is that life is about building things like a family, a business, a ministry, a following, a resume, an education or gaining wisdom, wealth or fame.

These are really the incidentals to life, that while being good and important, are not the center of life.  The center of life is union with God.  If we do not make union with God the center of our lives, we become off center, misguided, unhappy and discontent.

Psalms like Psalm 84 are not meant to be nor have the meaning of how wonderful it is to go to church, for Christians.  These songs are not about the longing and desire to get to corporate worship times.  Pieces like this one are prophetic poems about union with God in the life of the believer.

The courts of the Lord is God's presence.  The psalmist tell us that in his next refrain: "My heart and flesh cry out for the living God."  The longing is not for congregational singing nor for contemporary worship, but for union with God who is the center of my life.

God is my source, my wellspring and my only hope.  That is who and what I long for.  That is who I must have and who I must and need to be with.

Without God, front and center, in my thoughts and affecting my heart; my life falls apart.  I have an overwhelming desire for God and to be with God.

Every day, there is an opportunity for all sorts of things to creep into my life and crowd out my relationship with God.  I never lose God, but sometimes these things turn my attention away from God.  And I don't like that and don't want that.

I want God to be front and center in my life, in my thoughts and in how I see, hear and feel life and the people I come into contact with.

The psalmist looks and sees the birds who have found their homes, in and on the temple of God.  He sees this as a powerful metaphor of living in God's presence and making that your home where you create your own and give birth and raise your own families.

Next, the psalmist gives us a picture of how a life of pursuing God works in daily lives.  We are each on a journey, on a road or a pilgrimage to God.  We are all people on our way to heaven.

That is what life is about, being on our way to God.  Everything that we go through or that happens to us is raw material that is a bridge to union with God.  Since mankind fell, life has been hard; and every hardship is softened and transformed by relationship with God.

Being a believer has always been an inside job.  We are changed, transformed and live from the inside out.  The strength of the Lord is deposited into our hearts through grace and by faith, resting on God's steadfast love or faithfulness.  From the strength God provides in a heart under His care, that has begun its journey, the life of the believer is lived.

The Valley of Baca is the place of weeping.  We all pass through places of sadness. We have losses: disappointments, failures, injustices, seeming silence from God, betrayals, sicknesses, setbacks and loneliness.

The valley of weeping is part of the journey.  There are three things to know about this place of sadness on our journeys:
  1. It is unavoidable.
  2. Our time there is finite.
  3. We get to take our sorrow and see it transformed, redeemed and recompensed.
When we encounter sorrow, how we respond is important.  Children do react and respond childishly, but adults need to face troubles in a grown up way.  "God, help me to grow up, before I grow old", we say.

Being in denial or sinking into shame are two examples of the wrong way to respond to sorrowful circumstances.  Another destructive one is to get stuck in anger.  

We can not and should not avoid our valleys of weeping, because they are a place of transformation.  With every sorrow or thing that makes you sorrowful, there is a gift attached.  Where their is sorrow, we get to find wells of living water or springs of nourishment.

In the same place where we feel the pain of loss or disappointment, God has already provided sustenance and living waters.  A place of springwater is just below the surface in our valley of tears.  We just have to dig down and find it.

God never blesses us small.  God's blessings are overflowing and there is always extra.  And that is the picture of autumn rains falling on us in that valley of tears.

The place of revival or renewal 
is in our daily routine lives 
as we meet with God 
in our circumstances of life 
that are sometimes sad.  

The place of revival or renewal is in our daily routine lives as we meet with God in our circumstances of life that are sometimes sad.  God puts a deposit in us at the beginning of our journeys and that deposit accrues interest and our benefactor puts in more deposits along the way.  But we also procure our find compensation that has our names on it, in the midst of the sorrows of our lives.

Bravery is called for for every adult saint.  We valiantly face our trials, setbacks and failures; and go forward, finding new grace packages in the place where we are lamenting.  And God transforms us into the image of Christ.

Even in the greatest of losses, that are shocking, God has reviving waters stored up for us.  God takes wrecked lives and transforms, renews, heals and redeems them.  The greater the loss, the greater the work that God has in store to recover us.

Our hearts are set on the journey of union with God.  We see the birds, raising their families, in and on the temple, as a picture of living our lives in, towards and to God; living lives of worship and service to God.  And then, we embrace the reality of small and large losses and sorrows along the journey and we discover that God has hidden help and sustenance waiting for us, to strengthen us; making us more godly.

Life is a journey into union with God.  That is the center from which life is lived and sustained.  

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