Sing in Your Babylon

Meditating on Psalm 137.

How shall we sing the Lord’s song
In a foreign land? (Ps. 137:4)

Psalm 137 is a poignant remembrance of the exile of the inhabitants of Jerusalem to Babylon. The first few times I read this psalm, I ached for the fate of the people of God.  I had tears in my eyes. God was wroth with their repeated, blatant unfaithfulness that He used Babylon as instrument to punish them. So, they were taken captive and brought to a foreign land.

How do we see ourselves between the lines of this psalm in our present lives?

Last night, I started the live webcast of our church’s Friday overnight service with a heavy heart. I felt like I was not near God as I ought to be. I knew that I should be spending more time reading and meditating on the Word (not only in the morning and evening), praying, and praising God (and though I can’t vocalize because of my weak abdomen, I can always listen to praise and let my heart, mind, and soul sing silently). A lot of my time is spent writing and reading books, and although I go through the Scriptures as I write my book or blog, it’s different when you intentionally spend quiet time with the Lord, praising, worshiping, praying, and listening to His voice.

There are things we do that “exile” us from God. This is not of His own doing; I believe He never wants to drive us away. But our choices in everyday can drive us away from His nearness. We get so entangled with the affairs of the world that we get distracted and lose our focus. And when we feel we are not near to God, there is just heaviness. For He is the source of our peace and joy.

I was silently chastising myself as the congregation sang joyful songs. A thought even came to mind that if the Lord came at that very moment, would I be caught up with Him in the clouds and be together with Him for all eternity? Or would I be left behind because of my shortcomings and failures? How does one take hold of eternal life? How does one work out His own salvation with fear and trembling as the apostle Paul urges us in Philippians 2:12?

Not that we do not know, really. For we have been taught over and over again. But what I mean is — going through the motions of attending church, reading the Bible, praying, does not assure us of salvation because these things are not done with our whole beings. And, they should draw us ever nearer to God. If we can’t feel His presence there, if we feel empty, there is something wrong. For our faith must always be expressed through love (Gal. 5:6).  It’s our fellowship with the Spirit of God that affirms we are the children of God and heirs of eternal life.

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Rom. 8:16-17)

These thoughts played in my mind as I lamented my shortcomings. It was at this point that the words of the song being sung wound their way to my consciousness: 

He’s still working on me
To make me what I need to be
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me!

There’s no need to be too hard on ourselves. The Lord is plenteous in mercy. Let’s not exile ourselves from His presence just because we know we have a lot of shortcomings, failures, and blunders.

Once again, I received God’s mercy and slowly, He drew me to Him, caressing my heart and assuring me of His everlasting love. Silently, my heart sang.

(Beautiful photo courtesy of Sis. Evamarie Fetter).

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Journey with Jesus,

 

Comments

  1. Dawn says:

    Dear Rina,

    What a beautiful reminder of the purpose of mercy, not just with others but with ourselves. I love the vers in Romans that you shared.. His spirit bears witness with our own, that is an encouragement to me today. Not only does it bear witness with our spirit but it unites us closely with those who are also seeking Him!
    Blessings,
    Dawn

    • RinaPeru says:

      True, Dawn. We cannot love God without loving ourselves and others, too. It’s His Spirit that enables us. Blessings!

  2. I am very familiar with nagging guilt that I don’t pray enough or spend enough time reading my Bible. It is true that we must discipline ourselves to seek the Lord through prayer & study. Something I have been pondering lately is to “pray without ceasing”. This helps me as I learn to pray even about distractions, striving to constantly be in communion with the Lord about the most mundane areas of my life. I find it quite delightful to discover the Lord loves to commune about all matters of our lives. I am realizing also sometimes I must simply make myself be quiet, in order to “hear” Him better. ( I’ve also had periods of lamenting over failures & sins to the point of wondering if I really was “saved” or simply deluding myself. I think confession about anything that is plaguing me with guilt & trusting in the Lord’s great mercy & considering His Word in 1 John 1:9, where He promises to forgive & cleanse us as we confess, is what I’ve learned to be most effective in combating my fears. And also like you said Rina, I am learning to focus more & more on His great mercies & unfailing love for me. I feel this is too long but it is a blessing to find we share a similar battle. Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

    • RinaPeru says:

      Oh, it’s always a blessing to read your faith-filled comments, Cynthia. Yes, often there’s a nagging guilt that maybe we’re not doing enough, but sometimes, I hear also a voice gently telling me to just rest in the Lord and think of Him. Blessings to you!

  3. HisFireFly says:

    because of Who He Is
    not who you are
    and He loves every little bit of you!

  4. Cathy says:

    Rina, your words rang so true to my heart tonight as I rad your blog. Life seems to go so fast it is way to easy to allow the less important things to exile us from God. I have truly been blessed by your words.

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