5 Happy are the people whose strength is in You,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a source of springwater;
even the autumn rain will cover it with blessings.
7 They go from strength to strength;
The last few weeks have been rather tulmultuous, especially in regard to the U.S. economy. With the elections coming soon, costs of living soaring, and the threats to national security not too far in the backs of our minds, it seems that it is becoming harder and harder for American Christians to remain in their self- designed bubbles of comfort and apathy. I think that’s a good thing.
The scripture says that people whose strength is in God are happy. I’m thinking that as long as our strength is in our own abilities, the economy, having the president that we think is “right for the job”, or our military’s ability to protect us, we just can’t be happy. We can be lulled into a sort of semi-concious infatuation with the status quo, but we can’t truly be happy.
We can’t be truly happy until we are free from the prison of selfishness and are able to live and love with absolute abandon the God who created us and the people He created. We won’t be happy as long as we are spending our time, energy and money trying to make ourselves at home in this world system. Until our hearts are set on pilgrimage we won’t be happy.
According to Dictionary.com pilgrimage is a journey, esp. a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion. So what does that mean? First of all, when we are on Pilgrimage we are fully focused. When the Jews were on pilgrimage to Jeruselem, they let nothing get in their way. Pilgrims will risk their lives on the journey and as pilgrims we find our lives in the willingness to lose them. Some versions of this scripture say “have highways in their hearts.” That’s interesting. The journey is inside us. That’s why “stuff” can be so distracting for us. That’s why identifying with anything here too strongly can be dangerous to our spiritual health. It’s another one of God’s ironies. If we are to truly make a lasting difference on this earth and the people who live on it, we have to be other-worldly focused.
Now here’s the real punch line. When we go through the Valley of Bacca (or weeping) we will make it a source of spring water. First of all it says when not if we go through the valley, and secondly, the Lord is reminding us that none of those tears will be wasted, but instead, they become wells of refreshing for us and others on the journey!
Everything in God’s kingdom is opposite of the world’s system. The rat race will run you ragged. Living for the pleasures of this world and to please the people in it will leave you feeling all used up. But we will not be drained from our journey, not even from the hard parts if we stay focused on Jesus, but instead we will go from strength to strength. That is the Pilgrim’s promise that God gives each of us. So will you trust Him? Will you throw caution, comfort and self-pleasing to the wind for the opportunity to journey with the God of the universe? Or would you rather exhaust yourself fighting for what’s not even yours?