Traveler Songs: Let Israel Say

In my experience, it is so easy to let the fascade of the present distort your view of reality.  There have been times in my life where I completely thought that I was doing the right thing, but I had mistakenly equated safe with right.  I was doing the safe thing.  In my life I have wrongfully redefined “rightness” in terms of security, safety, and prosperity.  What I’ve realized is that its possible for decisions we make to be both “good” and “wrong” at the same time. 

Similarly, its possible for things at present in your life to be going very badly, but unbeknownst to you, some larger good is going on that you can’t even see.  The fascade of the present has often blinded me to larger things that God is doing or has done in my life.

This week I was reading Psalm 124.  Its a part of a series of 14 Psalms called the “Songs of Ascent.”  They’re songs that pilgrims used to sing together on their way to Jerusalem for Passover.  They’re songs sung on the road, in between destinations, on the move.  I tend to drift towards these songs during seasons of transition in my life, times where the only sure thing is the road ahead of me and the traveling companions I’ve picked up along the way.

David writes this: “if the Lord had not been on our side–let Israel say–if the Lord had not been on our side when the people attacked us, they would have swallowed us alive when there anger flared against us; the flood would’ve engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away.

David wrote these songs to prepare the people of Israel for their pilgrimage; to ready their hearts to offer sacrifices to God and worship together with the people of God.  Part of that preparation is calling them to consider their past in light of God’s provision.  If God hadn’t been on their side, they never would’ve made it out of Egypt.  If God wouldn’t have been on their side, they would still be in slavery.  If God hadn’t been on their side, they all would’ve died in the desert of Sinai.

It is a startling thought to think about how certain events in my life might have gone if I didn’t have Christ with me.  I have simply never taken the time to sit down and realize the magnitude of how Jesus Christ has impacted the choices that I’ve made, the ways that I’ve responded to crisis, the relationships I’ve formed with people.  Because of Christ in my life, I’ve been able to respond to hurtful people with tenderness and grace.  Because of Christ in my life, I’ve acted out of integrity even when no one else would’ve ever found out.  Because of Christ in my life, I’ve set up certain boundaries that have protected me in decisive moments.  When I think about where my life would be if God had not been on my side, I am filled with a deep sense of gratitude for all the ways that he has protected me, guided me, and empowered me to live a full life.

“Let Israel say…”  David seems to be inviting us to share with each other where our lives might have gone without God.  Do you have a story?  Do you have a moment where his love, grace, and presence saved you from dire consequences?

Life on the road… in transition… ought to be journeyed always with the memory of and gratitude for how God has shaped us at the forefront of our mind, because if we can remember how he has shaped us in the past in spite of our circumstances, we will be able to see past the fascade of the present and have confidence that he will continue to guide us in the future…

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