Thursday, September 17, 2015

Springs in the Valley

Psalm 84 is beautiful.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, you should drop your computer right now and go find a bible and open it up to that passage.  Ok, since I don't want you to go breaking your computer on me, I'll just give you the passage:

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD of hosts!
2My soul longs, yes, faints
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
to the living God.
3Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my King and my God.
4Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
ever singing your praise! Selah
5Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.b
6As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
7They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.
8O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
9Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed!
10For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
12O LORD of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you!

See what I mean?  So much goodness in there!  One part in particular, though, is really speaking to me lately.  Verses five and six say:

"5Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.b
6As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs."

Being the nerdy English major that I am, I had to unpack the figurative language in there.  Let start with the springs.  A spring is the place where water comes from.  There is a lot of water imagery in the Psalms.  Water is refreshing.  Water allows people, animal, and plants to live.  You could say it brings life.  Water represents baptism--entering a new life with Christ.  Water represents the Holy Spirit.  Water can be peace, or joy, or refreshment, or renewal, or change.  

 Then there is the valley.  A valley is usually referring to something bad.  Mountain tops usually mean success or good times or closeness with God.  A valley is in between the mountain peaks.  It could represent the good times between the bad.  The bible relates a valley to death and darkness.  A valley could be a place that seems far away from God.  A place where evil is occurring.  A place that is unholy, and broken.  

When I put that together, I read this passage as people who abide in Jesus can pass through a dark place, and make it a place that is life-bringing.  They get in the midst of hardships, and brokenness, and evil, and bring the Holy Spirit, and peace, and joy, and refreshment, and growth.  

That is my desire.  I desire to go to a broken place and bring life.  I desire to get my hands in the messiness and watch God's Spirit work.  I don't know what that will look like.  Maybe that means helping to bring hope to a broken school.  Maybe that means bringing the Holy Spirit to a bad part of town.  Maybe that means moving to the inner city and interacting with the poor, needy, and broken.  

All I know is that God has given me a desire to go through the valley and make it a place of springs.

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