Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pilgrimage through the Valley of Baca

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

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Psalm 84:5-7 (NIV1984)
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
   who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
   they make it a place of springs;
   the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength,
   till each appears before God in Zion.

We are blessed when we set our hearts on seeking God. It is good when we realize we are on a journey or a pilgrimage to know Him more.
I like to think of life as a journey. It is full of un-expected twists and turns. Sometimes our road runs through fertile valleys and sometimes through barren deserts. In our journey we can travel far from the path of Gods plan or we can walk with him through the ups and downs of life.  Just because the way seems hard does not mean that one is out from under God's blessing and care. It is most often the difficulties we go through, that most mold and shape us. 

Carolin Arends a Christian songwriter with a gift for stroy telling wrote a song called Travelers while stuck in an airport. I think she hits on something when she says the longer we have to wait the harder it is to tell the difference between the sinners and the saints. In reality it should be easier to tell us apart particularly if we are walking closely with Jesus. We should be trusting Him in and through the dificulties that we are facing.

"We are prodigals and pilgrams
We are sinners, we are saints
It gets hard to tell the difference
The more you make us wait
There is variance in circumstance
Direction, and occasion
But the truth is we're all travelers
Who have not reached our final destination"

Today our verse talks about a place called the Valley of Baca. I've seen it translated the valley of tears or adversity. Not exactly where we all want to go on our vacation. We get to that place in our journey and its easy to want to turn around and go back to where we came from rather than press through to the place of promise.  Interestingly the Valley of Baca is located in Mecca a famous place of pilgrimage. It is said to be the place Hagar mother of Ishmael sat down and cried out to God. If you want to read that story it is in Genisis 21. In a nut shell Abraham and Sarah got impatient waiting for Gods promise of a child and took matters into thier own hands. Sarah gave Abraham her servant Hagar to be a kind of suragate mother and provide her with a child. If you read the story, things did not work out too well. Sadly they generally don't when we try to manipulate our cirumstances to get to God's promise.

Our verse today it talks of passing through the Valley of Baca. Don't stay there and build a permanent residence in your self pity. Keep moving! You have not reached your final destination. On the path of pilgrimage there are  at times places of weeping and adversity. Our verse today talks the Valley of Baca becoming a place of springs as people pass through it on their pilgrimage to Zion. God wants to meet us in the place of weeping and adversity. He wants to provide a well for us, much like he did for Hagar in our dry and desperate places.   It is time to meet with God in that place and get refilled and refreshed. He wants us to move from strength to strength.

Dear Lord,
You know where each of us is on our journey towards you. Some are passing through the Valley of Adverstiy or Weeping. Come meet us in that place and help us to find the well of your presence and let us help create a place of springs as we pass through on our journey to know you more.

I've included a journal page if you would like to continue working through the another of the 23 verses and questions for personal revival.

Preparation for Personal Revival
(Read the verse and then answer the questions. If you answer "Yes" to any of the questions, it is an area of sin that you need to deal with. If you find you need help working through this visit my coaching site to contact me about scheduling coaching sessions.)

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