Monday, May 14, 2018

Exchange is possible

And how blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel; they wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks, discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!  God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and at the last turn—Zion! God in full view! (Psalm 84:5-7 MSG)

The psalmist declares that "happy" is the one in whom God "takes up residence" - the one that gives him right placement in their lives. As I read this passage again today, I asked myself the one question I like to ask myself from time to time: "Is my life marked by the footsteps and hand prints of God?" If God "passes through" my life on a frequent basis, my life should be marked well by his "tracks". If I spend time following him, the only footsteps that should be seen are his! If I find my hand securely in his, the only hand prints that should be molding my life are his - they are the ones that should be making the greatest and most lasting impression.

A little further into this psalm, we find the reminders, "he doesn't scrimp with his traveling companions" and it is "smooth sailing all the way with God!" Does that mean that you and I will never encounter any difficulty in our life if we will just surrender to God? Absolutely not! What this says is that God spares nothing to provide us with the protection we need, the provision that becomes more than we need, or the presentation of his unending and boundless grace as we travel along with him into uncertainties galore. God's provision is always greater than our awareness of our need - we might think we know our need, but he knows the specific provision that will meet that need in ways we never imagined possible. His protection is quicker and more thorough than our awareness of the dangers we face - even when we think we have a good handle on these obstacles, his view of what lies just beyond that present danger might just be an even bigger danger he has to guard us against. His offered grace and mercy are freer than any other offered blessing that crosses our paths along our journeys in life.

That being the case, I wonder what we do with his provision when it is offered - do we embrace it, or are willfully rejecting it? Do we hoard it up all for our own enjoyment and satisfaction, or do we disperse it into the lives of others around us so that they too may be blessed in their journey? What is it that we do in his protective arms - under the umbrella of his watchfulness and safe-keeping? Some of us might just nuzzle up there and enjoy the protective arms of our God, but I also know that we may, at times, chafe under that watchfulness. Instead of finding shelter there, we complain about the limits that shelter places in our lives - all the while pushing against those limits because we don't like being "limited" - our willfulness getting the best of us on occasion. When we examine our response to his mercy and grace, we are afforded an opportunity for the examination of our heart and mind as it relates to the healing of our pasts. His mercy and grace are there to create wholeness out of the emotional, physical, and spiritual injuries of our past.

Sometimes, we don't want to let go of what is so imperfect within us, choosing to hold on to the crushed emotional state, or what we could come to call the 'experienced damage' of our spirit. Although those areas of our lives are damaged and hurt, they have become a thing of certainty in our lives and letting go presents a place of uncertainty - so we hold on. Yet, God extends his arms and offers his mercy and grace - looking for an exchange to occur (our pain for his provision). A traveler is impacted by his travels - there are memories that are formed, experiences that are new and fresh that become things we hold onto, and moments of awe as we partake of something new, boundless, and beautiful. Those we choose to travel with along our journey in life impact the beauty and enjoyment of the path we travel. Therefore, they also impact the memories we form along the way. We can choose God as our traveling companion and be blessed along our journey - and this is just exactly what the psalmist had in mind as he penned these words. Our blessings are determined by who travels with us. Choose your traveling companions wisely! Just sayin!