Fresh Hope – 16th July 2018

‘Blessed are those who 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’ (Psalm 84: 5,6 & 7).

Blessed are those who have their hearts set on pilgrimage. What is pilgrimage? Pilgrimage is defined as a ‘spiritual journey’. God blesses a heart that is set for a journey.

Before any trip I take, I make a note on my phone, listing everything I need to pack for the journey. This is how I best prepare. If I’m heading overseas, I will weigh my luggage before I even get to the airport. I will check that I have adaptors for the country I’m going to, that I have the currency needed for where I’m travelling, that I have my passport and my toiletries in a clear bag (all under 100 mls too!).  A journey takes preparation. You need to prepare for the low of the flight, and the high of finally arriving at your destination.

When this Psalm speaks of preparing your heart for a journey, it is encouraging us that we must settle in our hearts that the journey of life will have both highs and lows and we mustn’t camp in the lows, but have a heart to always be moving forward.

Psalm 84 speaks of “passing through the Valley of Baka. Baka was a place of bareness and drought. This is a metaphor for the dry and barren parts or seasons of our life. The verse goes on to say, ’they make it a place of springs’. ‘Springs’ refers to water and life! How do the pilgrims turn a barren place into a place of life? They find their strength in God and set their hearts on the journey’, not on stopping and camping in the drought. They are moving. They are journeying. They settle in their hearts that like the earth has seasons of summer, autumn, winter and spring, so in our lives we will go through various seasons.

Perhaps the tears we sow in our Valley of Baka are the springs that we will one day reap from. In Psalm 126:5 it says, ‘Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy’.

Psalm 84:7 says, they go from strength to strength. As you find the strength in God to overcome one mountain on the journey, you gain the strength for the next. It is through the journey that we gain character, tenacity, growth and strength that we would otherwise not have had we not embarked on the journey or stayed in the one place.

View your trials as the opportunity to become stronger – to gain what you need for the next step. Thank your trials for what you got from them. That which you once cried over, God will bring joy from. That which was dry, will spring with life! Although there will be valleys, don’t stay there – have a pilgrim’s heart – a heart that is always set on the journey, always moving forward!

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.