At Gatecrashers prayer this morning, Randall read a story about growing strong trees. The person planting the trees kept the growing conditions harsh in order to grow strong trees with deep roots that could withstand tough conditions – no coddling these trees to have them become dependant on artificial sources of water, etc.
I had just finished reading the Psalm from the lectionary I have been following over this year – Psalm 84.
Two things struck me as I read it and meditated on it. First, the psalmist talks about his heart longing to spend time in the house of God – something I have experienced. I can appreciate this feeling of longing. Then in a later part of this psalm, he talks about being on a pilgrimage.
Happy are those who are strong in the LORD,
who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
it will become a place of refreshing springs,
where pools of blessing collect after the rains!
They will continue to grow stronger,
and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem. (vs 5 to 7)
I know that he is referring to Jerusalem but I think it applies to those of us who are on this pilgrimage towards God – towards knowing God more deeply. On this pilgrimage, the travelers pass through valleys – one being the valley of weeping. As they pass through this valley changes and becomes filled with springs of joy, flooded with blessing, sorrow transformed to joy. And the journey makes the pilgrim stronger.
This valley is where I find myself now. Watching my son and daughter-in-law struggle in their marriage seems a big and deep valley full of sorrow. I can’t see the road leading up and out of it yet. I feel like I am walking blindly. Maybe the thing is to just keep walking anyway, trusting God simply because there is no other god or power to trust but him.
The story of the trees and the psalm about the pilgrimage through this valley both seemed to speak to my present situation. I am glad I have roots that have grown deep enough to help me weather the present storm.
I know that God’s plans for me are good plans even if I have no idea how they will look. I remember his promise to care for my children and his words of love spoken to me in an earlier dark hour. I will not let myself just sit down in this valley and cry. I will keep on this pilgrimage even if I am walking with my eyes blinded by tears. I will keep on with whatever hope for joy ahead that I can right now. I know deep inside, in my roots, that God is here beside me. My hope. My rock. My solid foundation.