3 July 2018

Drought has been on my mind recently. Over a quarter of a century ago, I married into a farming family. Suddenly I was more interested in watching the rain gauge. Living on the coast, you may recall we had a very dry start to the year. But after a couple of week’s good rain, city folk forget all that so quickly, especially with big dams to help water the garden.

A heavy drought is still biting badly in many parts of NSW west of the coastal mountain escarpment – even in places as near as Picton. Please pray for our farmers, and ask the Lord in his mercy to send the rains.

I also think that’s why verse 6 struck me from Psalm 84 in my morning quiet time recently. Here it is with a little context…

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.

It’s Jewish pilgrims travelling up to the Temple on Mt Zion in Jerusalem. We see this from v1, which speaks of how lovely the Lord’s dwelling-place is. The Temple was where God symbolically dwelt among humans; where heaven touched earth as it were.

In New Testament times, we know Jesus is our real Temple – the place we meet God (e.g. John 2:20-22). And as the body of Christ, we too are now a temple of the Holy Spirit, and God’s Spirit dwells in us (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Jesus is really with us that way.

Back in Ps 84:2 the pilgrim, yet to reach the Temple, says “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” We all have dry times, but it is wonderful to thirst that way for God. Pray God will increase your longing.

But it was v6 that struck me! Because it seems the song-writer imagines the pilgrims themselves make the water flow in the desert valley on their journey. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have that sort of drought-breaking influence on the spiritually-parched world around you, as you journey to heaven, by faith in Jesus.

Psalm 84 also has one of my favourite images for the value of assembling with God and his people. Quote: “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”

As a sport-lover, I say I’d give anything to be at a Boxing Day Ashes Test, or a three-nil Blues victory over the Maroons at Lang Park. Even just a humble gatekeeper! But would I really give up three years of my life for one big day at a big game? Yet the Psalm says one day with God where his people gather is better than a thousand days doing other stuff.

John Piper recently admitted that “Ordinary Christian living is depleting”. So he urged the kind of thirst you see in Psalm 84. “God is glorified in [public] worship not only by those who come full, but also by those who come desperately needy.” I suggest you might read his whole article: “Come to Church Desperate” and pray about it.

Warmly in Christ,

Sandy Grant
Senior Minister