how pilgrims flourish

Blessed Is Everyone Who Fears the LORD
Psalm 128, A Song of Ascents.

1 Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,
who walks in his ways!
2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.

3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the LORD.

5 The LORD bless you from Zion!
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life!
6 May you see your children’s children!
Peace be upon Israel! (ESV)

On our second day trekking in Nepal, after a steep descent from Gatlang down a river gorge, across a suspension bridge, and a couple of difficult hours up the next mountain, our trail joined one of the few roads in the region. I use the term road loosely. You would have needed a four-wheel drive to use it in many places. But at this point, we could see Tatopani, the village where we would spend the night, ahead of us at about the same elevation. Relief flooded us, and our steps quickened.

The road itself was encouraging, assurance that there were no steep trails ahead. As it turned out, the village was further away than it looked (another 3 hours), and in some places where the road cut back, our guides took us on “short cuts” that were more difficult and challenging. But the afternoon was a blessing nevertheless, across relatively level land and a few pastures where cattle and goats gazed peacefully. It was what we needed, over a day and a half into our trek, as our muscles burned from unaccustomed stresses and our spirits soared from the beauty around us and the hope ahead of us.

Psalm 127 begins in such a moment, as the weary pilgrim, perhaps with a glimpse of Jerusalem in the distance, enjoys and anticipates the blessings that come from true worship and faithful obedience. ”Blessed is the one who fears the Lord, who walks in his way,” he sings, as he lists the blessings he envisions: good food, honest work, a fruitful wife, strong children, the support of Zion, a prosperous community, and even a few grandchildren. While there may be a few unexpected detours ahead, he rests in the goodnesses of his God, whom he worships with godly reverence and obeys with confident expectation. This is the ground of his true flourishing.

This expectation is the peace of his people (vs. 6). Such expectation was certainly our peace: the certainty of a hot cup of tea, the hospitality of strangers, good food and a bed with warm blankets. There was no mountain between us and that. Just take one step after another, across a good and level land, with blessings all around and just ahead.

The journey of faith is like this, descending and ascending, with level paths along the way. The blessing may vary, but this much is sure: “you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you (vs. 2).

 

The lodge at Tatopani in the Langtang region of Nepal.

 

 


This is the ninth in a series of devotions for trekkers, based on the Psalms of Ascent.  Look for a new one each Monday.  The series begins here:  Psalm 120.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s