Thursday, January 21, 2016

Thoughts on Psalm 119:19

19 I am a stranger in the earth;
Do not hide Your commandments from me.

In verse 17, we considered how healthy it is to view ourselves as servants. Here is another liberating self-image that we can obtain by peering into the mirror of God’s Word: that of a stranger, or pilgrim.

Consider Hebrews 11, the famous “faith hall of fame.” Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Israel, David, Joseph, Samson, and many other men and women we still read about and learn from thousands of years later. And how did they view themselves?

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Heb 11:13

For Americans, it’s easy to get a picture in our minds of pilgrims: they wear black clothes, funny hats, and sailed on the Mayflower. But a pilgrim is just someone who goes on a long journey, especially for religious reasons. Wherever they are, they may stay for a while, but they aren’t putting down roots, because they are on their way to somewhere else.

And if you have accepted Jesus’ payment on the Cross for your sin (Oh, God, thank You that You have forgiven my sin!); if you have been born again, then you are a pilgrim whether you know it or not, because you are on your way to somewhere else. But knowing that you are a pilgrim results in a blessing.

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 Psalm 84:5-6

Psalm 84 makes it very clear that there is a correlation between having the strength of God and seeing yourself as a pilgrim. It’s not being weighed down by temporary, earthly things. It’s having an eternal mindset that puts the struggles, trials, and desires of this life into a proper perspective, so that even death has lost its sting (1 Cor 15:55).

And as a result, you are just “passing through” the valley of Baca, that is, the valley of weeping. And as you pass through, on your way to your ultimate destination, recognizing that you are not stuck in the valley of weeping forever, you will actually turn it into a spring: a source of life-giving water. A miracle that is brought about by the strength of God flowing through you.

So Dad finally gets the kids in the car, and they’re off to Disneyland. They drive a couple of days, and make a stop for the night. Across the street from the motel is a  run-down city park. The teeter-totter is broken, the slide is full of mud, the water fountain is stopped up. The kids start crying, saying, “Dad! Our park was better than this! We should’ve just stayed home!”

Dad grabs his toolbox, takes the kids by the hand, and leads them across the street to the park. They clean the slide, fix the teeter-totter, and unclog the water fountain. They play and have a great time, then get back in the car to continue on to Disneyland. Before they do, Dad kneels down and looks his kids in the eye, saying:

“You’re just passing through. Don’t get discouraged because things look ugly here. You’re on your way to a place so wonderful you cannot even imagine it. Set your heart on your destination, and enjoy the journey. And while you’re here, leave it better than you found it. I’ll be with you, and I’ll help you.”

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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