As I write this post, I’m in the midst of a stretch of seventy days in which I am out of town or out of country about fifty of them. That’s more travel than I usually have in my schedule. It just happened that a number of good opportunities have clustered this Fall. I didn’t feel that “No” was the right answer to any of them.
Because I still wrestle with assumptions of scarcity rather than trusting the Lord who shepherds me and provides well for me, I sometimes find myself anxious, even fearful. So, when I came across these beautiful lines from Psalm 84, I was grateful for the help they gave me:
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.” (vss. 5-7 NIV)
The “Valley of Baka” is “dry valley” or perhaps “the valley of weeping.” Weeping doesn’t exact fit this season I’m in, but an experience of dryness, or feeling drained, does. There is an emotional, mental and spiritual expenditure every time I speak to a group of leaders or lead a retreat. I’m tempted to pretend it costs me little or nothing, but that just isn’t true.
There is something real that the writer of Psalm 84 wants us to know and trust: there is a way of finding our strength in God. Rather than relying primarily on our experience, or our education, or our personality, or our reputation, we can lean on the mighty presence of God with us.
Sometimes, leaders are tempted to believe their strength is in their own wisdom or winning personality. They think they’re main strength is their reputation in a group of which they are part. They might lean on their education, their position or their experience. All of these can be God-utilized resources to further his purposes in and through us.
But the one who is blessed is the one who knows that strength comes from God and is accessed in God. This is a heart set on pilgrimage. It is a heart that lingers with God along the whole journey. This sort of person is a portable source of refreshment and renewal.
How has your Fall begun? For some of us, it can be a very intense time of re-engagement and work, ministry or school activity. What might it look like to trust the strength of God in each moment, each activity, each task, each meeting? Listen to these lines from The Message:
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
I send this email along with my prayer that you’ll discover God’s refreshing strength in your life, your relationships and your work this week!