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,