- Going back to school
- Going away to college
- Moving across the country
- Getting married
- Losing a parent
- Starting a new job
- Having a baby
Transitions create opportunities for new routines, new relationships, and new ways of doing things. All those new shiny ventures have a flip side, endless goodbyes and letting go.
My husband and I are walking through a season of transition. In June we were called to leave a church community that we had done life with for almost two decades. We are journeying with the Gathering, a community on a mission to plant a church in Richmond, Texas. Seasons of transition involve many goodbyes and some amazing introductions.
And now, God, do it again— bring rains to our drought-stricken lives.So those who planted their crops in despair will shout “Yes!” at the harvest,So those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.
Psalms 126:4-6 The Message
Psalm 126 is a psalm of ascent and was designed for traveling and transitions. Psalms of ascent were shared to encourage pilgrims on the yearly journey back to Jerusalem. While on a tour of Israel, our group read these psalms of ascent as our bus drove up the steep road to Jerusalem. Even our bus seemed to struggle slightly to make its way ever upward. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for families with young or older members.
This psalm focuses on the story of God’s faithfulness to his people. It tells a story of people reuniting after one group was taken captive and the other was left behind. Last week we looked at the joyful reunions in the first three verses. (https://antheakotlan.com/2021/08/04/am-i-watching-for-gods-wonderfulness/)The next three verses of Psalm 126 (verses 4-6) overflow with joyful celebration and speak about reversals of fortune. Weaved into these verses are some cautions for me to consider.
Verse 4 opens with a request to God, “do it again—bring rains to our drought-stricken lives.”
The idea of an encore performance proves that the author of the text knew that God was capable of fulfilling this request as He had done before. This was more than a simple request for rain. The psalmist begs for a remedy for drought-stricken lives because he knows what God can and will do.
Keep me reminded, Lord, of what you have done and will continue to do in times of transition.
Times of transition make God’s people particularly vulnerable to becoming soul parched. Drought-stricken lives can lose hope and become hardened by disappointment. The dry ground of my heart can’t germinate even the very best seed. A miraculous intervention is needed for two kinds of thirsty people.
1) Those who planted crops in despair stayed and found themselves surrounded by uncertainty.
2) Those who went off with heavy hearts when they were taken captive by the enemy. Now, they have returned to their homeland decades later. They are parched beyond measure.
I can relate to both kinds of people.
What does it mean to plant crops in despair?
• Is it the mother who continues to pray for an estranged child?
• Is it an adult child who continues to honor her elderly parent, even when it is emotionally costly?
• Is it the worker who works hard despite a lack of accolades?
How is God calling me to plant seeds in areas of my life that might feel hopeless? What harvest is He asking me to remain faithful to? Even before the rains come back.Is a harvest still good and abundant if it doesn’t come in on my timeline? What if the harvest is not what I expected? Could it be more of what I need and not so much what I want?
Keep me planting the seeds you have entrusted to me in this season. Even when I can’t see the harvest.
How about those captives “who went off with heavy hearts”? How will they come back?
Verse 6 says, “they will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.”
How about the times in my life when I am called to go out with a heavy heart? Departing with sadness may happen long before I return with the armloads of blessings. Sometimes I have to go, not knowing where I will land or what I will find when I get there. Sometimes I am called to go even when I don’t want to.
Keep me on track and in step with you even when the path takes me in another direction, and I’m not clear exactly where we are going.
What about those armloads of blessings? What do I need to put down so I have the armload space for those new blessings? If they are measured in armloads, could they be a burden in themselves? Do blessings sometimes take work on my part? Do blessings come in armloads and seem too much sometimes? Do blessings overflow and surprise us with the generosity of God?
Psalm 126 seems to point to the now and not yet. When I see the partial restoration, maybe it is a sign or reminder for what is yet to come. God is, in fact, going to do it again and again. He never grows weary of surprising me with abundance.
As a Christ-follower, I have a call on my life to be a hope giver, hope sharer, and a hope speaker. None of which comes naturally to me. In times of transition, can I choose to do just that?
Keep me open-handed and open-armed in times of transition.
How do you see hope in Psalm 126? How could you share that hope today?