Begin and end with God
August 11, 2019 - Sunday 4:08 AM by JD Vergara
For my morning prayer, I am one of the millions worldwide who feed on the the book of Psalms. Not only do the contents talk of circumstances that are all too familiar humanly speaking, the format of the book, i.e. poetry, readily invites readers to a reflective and prayerful mood. With a hot coffee at the break of dawn and your bible, coupled with the quietness of the early morning, nothing can be more perfect. This is a good habit we all must keep until the day we leave this life. Begin with God in the morning and you’ll remain in Him till evening.
In Psalm 84:5-6, we read the following verses:
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
Who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Bacca,
They make it a place of springs.
The autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
Till each appear before God in Zion.”
Here the Psalmist expounds on his understanding about life and faith. He says “blessed are those whose strength is in you.” Strength here means confidence or a sense of security. The Psalmist is saying blessed are those whose confidence and security is the Lord and not their well-paying jobs, successful businesses, or anything on earth. Blessed is a person who ultimately understands that it is God who causes all good things to come to a person. He is the source of all good things.
The second line says, “who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.” This talks about an understanding that life just passes through. Nothing is permanent and everything constantly changes. There is birth and then death, and everything that begins ultimately ends. Life is just a journey from birth to death. This is to be embraced wholeheartedly. The point is to understand how to live our life well. Knowing that we are here just for a while, we must live in the best way we can and this is what gives honor to the author of life.
There are those who say that this world is their home and hence we need to care for it. This is laudable, of course, but this is not truly accurate. First of all, we leave this earth when we die, hence, this can never truly qualify as “home.” This earth is not our final destination. Second, we think we can actually do something to preserve this earth by sheer human effort, but this is a bit naïve considering that eons ago, the world was a very chaotic place. We are talking of one natural catastrophe after another occurring every moment. And then slowly, the world subsided into what we know of it today. If it happened before without human intervention, I believe it can happen again with or without human intervention.
But this is not to say that we are not to preserve the environment. Yes, we need to protect and care for the environment for the simple reason that it is the right thing to do. It better to preserve than to destroy and waste natural resources. It is right to clean up your room and not allow it to waste away. But we do understand that no matter what we do, things eventually wear out and die, and this includes this planet. Nothing is permanent except change, as they say. But we choose to do what is right because it is in keeping with our sense of what is right which I say is embedded in our nature by God. To do good is to affirm God’s nature because God is good.
The Psalmist says those who make God as their strength and who understand they are on a journey called life pass through the “Valley of Bacca” and make it a pool of spring. The Hebrew word “baca” or “bakah” means “to weep.” It refers to what ancient Hebrews called “weeping” tree, a tree that drips resin or gum-like tears, such as a balsam, mulberry, or aspen tree. In other words, the Valley of Bacca means suffering and pain. For those whose strength is God, they make their suffering and pain a pool of spring, that is, God is their comfort and help. Although they cry and suffer, they have strength and joy and they are confident that everything turns up good for those who trust in God.
Lastly, the last line says, “they go from strength to strength till each appear God in Zion.” Here, the Psalmist may be talking about a literal appearance before God in Jerusalem, that is, “Zion,” but this is also true figuratively speaking. We all appear before God at the very end of life. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul talks about this thing. He says:
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
Paul says that in this “body” meaning, our earthly life, we groan and suffer. And he says that to be absent from the body, meaning, to leave this earthly life, is to be present with the Lord, that is, to appear before God and be with God. This is the ultimate end of human life. We begin to exist and live and then we die and when we do, we appear before God and be with Him. God therefore is our home. All things begin and end with God.
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