Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

May 07, 2004

A Good Word

This morning, intending to read the Psalm that I'd heard quoted yesterday at a National Day of Prayer meeting, I misremembered the Psalm-number and wound up reading this instead:

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"

How can we sing the songs of the LORD
while in a foreign land?

That's the start of Psalm 137 of course. It wasn't the right Psalm at all, and yet perhaps it was. Later in the day, I opened up my Bible during my break and read this:

When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.

That's the start of Psalm 126. And I felt as if God were showing me, in these two Psalmic snapshots, a composite picture of where I've been these past few weeks. In a kind of exile from my true home. Far from life and health. "We were like men who dream," says the NIV, but in a footnote we have the alternative: "We were like men restored to health."

Yes, restored to health. That's exactly right. That's how I'm beginning to feel. A funny thing. I have done nothing to come by this restoration. I simply kept on praying and waiting, and I didn't worry that my prayers seemed at times hollow and perfunctory. It was the best I could manage, and so I just kept on.

So I think I'm learning. I think I'm actually growing. Is this not a wonderful gift? "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Always this is my concern: spiritual formation (to call it by its au currant label). That is to say: growth. Getting rooted. Being that tree planted by the water (Psalm 1):

Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

In this life there will be days of weeping in Babylon, and there will be rejoicing in Zion. But through it all, the Savior teaches us that word of steadiness and rootedness: "Abide in Me." And that is truly a good word.


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