LECTIONARY REFLECTION |PSALM 84:1-5
“The obviously well kept secret of the “ordinary” is that it is made to be a receptacle of the divine, a place where the life of God flows.” -Dallas Willard
We were driving through the Rocky Mountains with the kids awhile back. A day earlier we were perched on the ledge of the Grand Canyon, peering across this vast expanse as one’s eyes try to take in the scale of it all.
Now the snowy peaks of the mountains danced on the horizon, and the clouds were opening up to bring a new blanket of snow as we neared Vail Pass. While I gripped the wheel tighter and took in the beauty and brawn of it all, my kids’ eyes were glued to the movie we had playing in the backseat of the minivan.
“Look outside the window kids!” I yelled back. “Behold, the grandeur of God all around us! Take in these breathtaking views!” No response. Kung Fu Panda was eclipsing the divine majesty of God’s handiwork.
I think the Psalmist of the Hebrew Scriptures often felt the way Keri and I did in that moment. The Psalms, like good poetry, try to put words to divine realities, and try to draw people’s eyes away from worldly distractions in order to catch a momentary glimpse of God’s Presence Among Us.
In this week’s lectionary we read from Psalm 84 where the divine reality being described is God’s dwelling place and our soul’s yearning to find a home in the safety and warmth of His Presence:
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion” (Psalm 84:1-5).
Followers of Jesus today have the privilege of living on the “other side of the cross,” where the deep longings of the Hebrew poets and other “Old Testament saints” have been fulfilled in shocking ways they never could have imagined. You see, in the fullness of time, God did build a new Temple for His Presence to dwell — but it no longer resides on Mount Zion in the Middle East.
“Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise” indeed! Happy are those whose strength is found in God, indeed. But Children of God, look out the window! God’s strength is now taking up residence in His New Creation people. Children, look up from your current worldly distraction long enough to ponder what it means to adapt the Psalmist’s words to declare the Rocky Mountain-sized gospel truth and mystery deeper than the Grand Canyon:
How lovely is your dwelling place, my own marred yet majestic soul! My soul is now the very courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the God who lives in me! O Beloved, happy are those in whose heart are the highways by which Zion’s King has come to indwell you and me!
Wow. That’s deep, indeed.
The one regret I have about our trip to the Grand Canyon is that we were unable to hike down into it and explore “beneath the rim” because 1) we had young children and 2) limited time before we had to catch our train. All the experts and experienced travelers to the Grand Canyon said you can’t really” take it all in” or see it in proper perspective until you’ve gone down inside the rim.
The same holds true in our spiritual life: if you want to become an expert in the Ways of Jesus and His Kingdom, you need to hike down into the soul’s depths and explore its wild and majestic terrain. You have to go on what we’ve been calling a Pilgrimage of the Soul.
So, dear children distracted inside the mini-van of daily living, lift up your eyes and look out the window! Even better, look into your own soul today! The scenery is majestic — even divine!
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst” (1 Cor. 3:16)?