Hi everyone. Rob here.
Ancient Israel was always a nation in transition. Moving from being wandering ex-slaves in the desert to a nation-state is a difficult move. Moving from a tribal model to a monarchical one is also a big shift. They then split into two – Israel and Judah, only to become one again after Israel was conquered by Assyria. Exile happened and then a return, only to be dominated by larger empires. Then there was a final conquering and Israel was no more for centuries. God chose this nation to be his people, his representatives on earth. They were tasked with keeping the law and, most of all, worshipping God alone. There were to be no idols. It’s fair to say that Israel struggled deeply with the task. They became living proof that doing God’s will in the world requires a fundamental shift of the heart and the active involvement of God’s Spirit in us.
I talk about this because we too are a weak and vulnerable people whose way of life in under threat from outside sources beyond our control. In order to live close to God and do his will in the world in this hour, we need a robust, resilient and beautiful inner life of the heart. We need a profound love of God and people that is resistant to the winds of fear, suspicion, disappointment and even hatred that are swirling around at this time. The enemy of our hearts is busy but God is also at work issuing an invitation for his people to draw close and live in the security and joy of the Trinity through Jesus Christ. Once again we remember the glorious words of Matthew 11:28-30,
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
The most mature and gracious people I know travel light. They don’t carry things that aren’t theirs to carry, and yet, they hold me up and support me somehow. Isn’t that the kind of person you want to be? It’s certainly who I want to be but it is impossible to be like that if we allow our hearts to give in to the external turbulence of our circumstances. When I am struggling with this I often return to concepts voiced in Psalm 63:
O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.
3 Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
5 You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.
I remember that I long for God more than anything else. He is the desire of my heart. I have seen his glory. I have felt his power and his presence. I have seen it at work time and time again. His love truly is better than life. Even though I have barely glimpsed just a fraction of it and long to experience it more, I know it to be true. I choose to worship him and him alone. No idols. He is the only one who truly satisfies the eternal longing that he planted in my heart.
May you meditate on this Psalm this week and remember in your heart and soul the love of God. May you be in touch with the deepest desire of your heart and may the love of God build in your heart the resilience we all need in this hour.
Grace and peace.