Bringing Life (Psalm 84:6)
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. 8 Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob. 9 Look on our shield, O God; look with favour on your anointed one.
I love the image presented to us in these verses of the transformational power of the pilgrims. Is it really possible that as we pass through the barren, dusty, dreary places they can become places of life and hope? That is what these verses seem to say to me!
This is only possible because of the work of the Lord: he is the bringer of life and hope, and his is the only power to bring about transformational change. But as we pass through the valleys we have the joy and privilege of making them places of prayer, and when we pray we are acknowledging the presence of God in a place and His power to bring about change.
I heard recently of a church which has on the inside of the door, for people to see as they leave the building, a sign saying: You are now entering a place of prayer. That is such a challenge, to see the world as the place of God’s power and transforming presence, accessible through the wonderful gift of prayer. Another wonderful Psalm, 145, reminds us that:
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. (Psalm 145:18)
It wonderful to know that today, this week, this year, as I go through the places that may seem dry and dusty, I can call on the Lord, who is closer than I can imagine, and He will bring His transforming presence into that situation whatever it may be, bringing His life, love and peace.
Margaret is the mother of our regular contributor, Emma. She lives in Cambridge and is a member of Christ Church. She teaches English in one of the Cambridge schools.