Seeker: “How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!”
Preacher: “My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.”
Seeker: “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.”
Preacher: Words of the psalmist speak for me often; and on this theme more than ever. There are some days, Seeker, that I long from the refuge and respite of heaven. I am not young, and have seen many years. My body grows old, and the ailments burden me much. And I have seen enough of the world to know that while the Holy Presence dwells among us, this is not the primary dwelling place of the Lord of Hosts. The psalmist says, “Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. Selah”
Seeker: “Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.” I have always felt verses such as this one describe you very well Preacher. Are you not happy?
Preacher: “As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion. O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah” I am happy, Seeker. Life is sweet and good. Companions such as yourself make the days fly. But my happiness is tinged with sadness because I know that as good as this earthly life is, the world to come will be even better. And the pain, hurt, and sadness is this world will have no place in the world to come. And as I said, some days I long for that world.
Seeker: “Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed. For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness.”
Preacher: “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
Seeker: Preacher, if the space and place that you have made for yourself and for others by drawn on the guidance and instruction of the Divine is a small foretaste of heaven, I would be very glad and long to be there also. “O LORD of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.” (Psalm 84)
Preacher: That is very kind of you to say, Seeker. But let us turn to the other psalm passage for this week. In this passage the psalmist has a different message and theme. “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry.”
Seeker: “The face of the LORD is against evildoers, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.”
Preacher: “When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.”
Seeker; It may make me sound sort of dense, but I am just realizing that this type of deliverance would not be needed in heaven. Heaven is already aligned with the Divine; and in heaven all would dwell in peace. Who would not want that type of existence? And yet there are those who destine believe in the Divine and forfeit that type of existence.
Preacher: That is a severe judgment on unbelievers, and I shudder to think that would happen to anyone. But you are right – scripture tells us that some will not be welcomed into heaven. Here on earth, the psalmist says, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD rescues them from them all. He keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken.”
Seeker: “Evil brings death to the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.” I have heard you, Preacher, plead to the unbelievers to turn towards or turn back towards the Lord God. That on this side of heaven it is never too late to embrace belief.
Preacher: “The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.” (Psalm 34:15-22) That is why, Seeker, as long as the Divine gives me voice and strength I will proclaim the Lord God as the only refuge and strength that will endure.
Seeker: Shalom & Selah, Preacher, Shalom & Selah!