Refreshment in Refuge
by Gina Burgess
The sweet sound of rain splashing outside filled me with joy this morning. It was so soothing I went back to sleep listening to it. So, I slept late. Sometimes that is a very good thing, and this morning was no exception.
When I awoke again, the rain was still coming down, and it was still dark outside. I love how it sounds dripping through the oak trees, splashing in the puddles. Refreshing, cleansing, and reviving. I was acutely reminded of when I lived in the high desert of Arizona.
Months of dry, clear skies, and months of heat never washed clean of dust by refreshing rain. I would see a little puff cloud and weep while praying for rain. We had our share of clouds gathering in conference about whether to let go of their rain there or to scuttle across the mountains and let go of it over there. I would look off toward the mountains and see rain pouring from clouds than never made it to Kingman valley. As fall approached, more clouds would form, but they would dissipate before any rain could fall. If it did fall, it would evaporate before getting close to the ground.
I grew up in Louisiana where rain is almost a daily occurrence. In the summer afternoon it washes the heat away for brief moments. In the spring rain coaxes flowers from the moist earth. In the winter we have rain instead of snow. Growing up soaked in rain, it would seem one would get tired of it instead of crave it like a joy-drug. So when the clouds' rumbling conference finally ended in unanimous agreement to relent and wash the hot dusty streets of Kingman, Arizona with cool, reviving rain I had to go outside and rejoice over that which I had deeply and desperately missed. We could hear people rejoicing up and down the street as rain finally came pouring down.
To a very small degree, this is probably how the Jews felt about Jerusalem while they were captive in Babylon. Then Cyrus decreed they could go home. But the decree got lost somewhere for about 15 years. When Nehemiah, the cup bearer for Artexerses, was approached by his friends and kinsmen from Jerusalem about how bad things were there and that the walls were not built, God’s plan for rebuilding the walls was put into motion.
In Psalm 126, we see into the heart of those who were captive returning home to Judah. David’s prophecy is an assurance that just as Judah was taken from the Promised Land into Babylon, surely, they would return to Jerusalem their weeping turned to joy, and their sorrow turned to laughter. There are many scholars who say the Bible is linear in that each prophecy is about one event, no double-dipping so to speak.
But, I see prophecies in the “near” and “far” perspectives. Israel did not have just one period of disobedience. One need only read Judges to see the many times Israel got close to God and then turned their backs upon Him. Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet. He wept for his kinsmen, knowing they would undoubtedly succumb to Nebuchadnezzar because they would not repent.
Take for instance Psalm 107. We see a pattern of disobedience and repentance. Then suddenly an account of how Jesus calmed the wind and sea. (Psalm 107:23-31) Fascinating. To me, this is precisely why the Bible is as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago.
Many scholars attribute Psalm 126 as foreseeing the return of the captives to Jerusalem. Some say they wept because they had to sow the seed they could have eaten, and it would cause much hunger before the harvest. But sowing the seed would bring a great harvest. A good harvest would provide much food for the winter and much seed for the spring. This would bring great joy and laughter.
There is a huge sermon in Psalm 126.
Jesus used the parable of the Sower in Matthew 13 to illustrate how God’s word is planted, how the soil accepts the seed, how it either grows and bears fruit or perishes in the dry, stony soil. Have you ever thought about tears while praying as refreshing rain? Forget the physics for just a moment and ponder how your body enters into the act of prayer. Not corporate prayer, but prayer of intercession for your lost loved one, or your son, daughter, father, mother, sister, brother who has strayed away from God by treading the path of self-reliance, that worldly way.
Your eyes are tightly closed, your hands are clenched, your breath is almost stilled, and tears track down your face. It is how desire and want melds totally into God’s will, and God’s words fill your mouth as you earnestly intercede for your loved one to finally break away from the world’s grasp to kneel humbly at the feet of Jesus. Consider Psalm 126:5-6
Psalm 126:5 Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! 6 He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
Now picture this in a different setting with those loved ones of yours that are lost, your tears washing over them. Then all those seeds you planted, watered by your prayers and tears bear fruit and you dance in Heaven with your loved ones who heeded Jesus’ call to all.
God’s promise is that we will, indeed, bring our sheaves (the fruit of our labor) with us when we go home. That which is sown in tears will be reaped in joy with shouts of thanksgiving.
The Hebrew word translated “going forth” or “goes out” is hâlak and has a meaning of continual walk, talk, life journey, grow, spread, send, among others. The other interesting word here is “bringing”. That Hebrew word is nâśâ' nâsâh with a root that means lift, but this word has literal, figurative, and relative applications. But look at the English words it is translated into: accept, advance, arise, (able to, [armor], suffer to) bear (-er, up), bring (forth), burn, carry (away), cast, contain, desire, ease, exact, exalt (self), extol, fetch, forgive, furnish, further, give, go on, help, high, hold up, honorable (+ man), lade, lay, lift (self) up, lofty, marry, magnify, X needs, obtain, pardon, raise (up), receive, regard, respect, set (up), spare, stir up, + swear, take (away, up), X utterly, wear, yield.
If we were to make a list of words that describe how we should treat our brothers and sisters in Christ, could we make a list any more complete?
· Accept them for who they are in Christ.
· Advance their learning in Christ.
· Arise with them.
· Bear their burdens and troubles with them.
· Carry and cast away the dross that comes to the top, and do not hold it against them when they ask for forgiveness.
· Desire and pray for the best for them. Intercede for them.
· Forgive freely.
· Furnish their needs as Christ provides.
· Lift and carry them over the rough spots.
· Wear Christ as your shield to stand in front of them.
· Yield your will to His, and teach them His ways.
Those deep felt desires for our loved one to be saved, or our children to finally see the sunshine after a stormy experience, Jesus felt as He tramped the dusty roads and looked into the dear faces of His disciples. The rain washes away the impurities from the air leaving it clean and fresh. How wonderfully God works inside us to wash away the impurities of the world as we tramp through it. His call is for all His children to treat each other so as to make the lost desire what we have so deeply that they come at Jesus’ bidding. For the world knows Jesus by our love for one another.
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She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.
If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection
Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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