Is your mind focused on what truly satisfies? Our editor Al shares a story about how his priorities were re-aligned after coming to a realization of what is most important.
“What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
They will continue to grow stronger,
and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.” (Psalm 84:5-7 NLT)
Have you ever come across something so beautiful, so magnificent that you just couldn’t take your eyes off of it? A few hours ago that was exactly my experience as I read this passage of Scripture. I read it over and over again, picturing the springs, the soft rain and the beautiful and holy city of God. I proceeded to read a few Bible commentaries in order to grasp the meaning of the passage to its intended audience (the Israelites). And finally it happened: God spoke to my heart. He revealed to me His personalized meaning for this passage in regards to my life.
What is a mind set on pilgrimage to Jerusalem? From Bible commentaries I learned that it is a heart set on journeying to worship God in the most intimate way. During the days of this Scripture the Israelites journeyed to Jerusalem to engage in public worship. The Ark of the Covenant, which was believed to house the presence of God, dwelt in this city. Hence, a heart set on pilgrimage to Jerusalem is a heart set on intimately worshiping God and basking in His presence. After I learned all of that from reading Bible commentaries God asked me a penetrating question: “what is your heart set on?” I thought about it for a second. Was my heart set on pilgrimage? Was my heart set on journeying until I reached a place of intimacy with God that could quench the thirst of my soul? Was my heart set on intimate fellowship with Jesus? Or was my heart set on my personal desires and goals for my life?
I was honest enough to admit to myself and to God that my heart was set on personal desires. I realized that my thoughts had been fixated on the things that I wanted most for myself, and not on pursuing intimacy with God. What God revealed to me next really blew me away. He pointed me to the portion which reads “the autumn rain will clothe it with blessings.” “It” refers to the path that leads to Jerusalem (the place of intimacy with God). Now this is what God spoke into my heart, “if you prioritize pilgrimage to the place of My presence, I will rain down upon you the blessings that you previously had your heart set on.” The Valley of Weeping doesn’t become a pool of blessing until we stop focusing on the blessing and start appreciating the beauty of the Blesser. When intimate worship and fellowship with Jesus becomes our only destination, we find that blessings rain down along that path.
There is nothing wrong with having personal desires. There is nothing wrong with praying for things such as a job or a spouse, in fact God wants us to. What God revealed to me is that like the psalmist my heart must be set on intimately enjoying and experiencing the presence of God, and nothing else. That is the only thing that truly satisfies. I know that the journey to this place will be full of road-blocks. I know that other seemingly more pressing desires will compete for my focus, but I have made a decision to set my heart on pilgrimage. And by the grace of God I will walk this path, growing stronger and stronger, until I experience Zion in my life. As the psalmist says in verse 10, “better is one day in Your courts than thousands elsewhere!”
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