A Song for the Journey
Have you ever noticed that life isn't quite as easy as everyone says it's supposed to be?
Our conversations so often look like this:
“How are you?” “Fine. Everything's good.”
Then you find out they are dealing with marital problems, cancer, or something else super hard.
Take a look at your friend's Instagram.
It's all perfect. Life is good.
Neil Gabler wrote a book, Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality where he argues that we are all the stars of our own movies. The rise of social media has allowed us to edit out all the bad stuff. We don't talk about or share the difficulty of life.
Are there exceptions? Sure, but typically it comes when there is nothing left to hide. We are at the end of our rope and everybody knows anyway.
After Ethan was born, Amy had some severe issues with psoriasis on her hands and feet. It was so bad that she had a hard time using her hands. We contacted doctors and made a trip to the Mayo Clinic (just to learn that everything we needed was available for sale at Wal-Mart). When we had come to our wits end we asked for prayer.
I think we were wise and I would not change our approach of pursuing every medical treatment we could find. However, I wish we had asked for prayer first.
Because we are way into faith healing?
It is because that decision would have changed our posture in the situation. We would have entered into it with less fear, less worry, less us-centeredness, more community, more connection, and more trust. That trust, would have included more trust in God and ourselves.
As we are on this journey called, “Life,” we find that we are often face to face with the reality that it isn't easy.
There is pain. There is struggle. There is heartache. There is fear.
So as we journey we ask a question, “Where will my help come from?”
In one of the songs of ascent, Psalm 121, the weary traveler looks toward the mountain where the Temple sat and realized that their journey there would be difficult. They had to walk through a desert wasteland. It was filled with animals and thieves. They would be there in the night when the cold would set in. To go to the Temple was no easy task for those not living in Jerusalem.
When the road was difficult, they sang:
I raise my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. God won’t let your foot slip. Your protector won’t fall asleep on the job. No! Israel’s protector never sleeps or rests! The Lord is your protector; the Lord is your shade right beside you. The sun won’t strike you during the day; neither will the moon at night. The Lord will protect you from all evil; God will protect your very life. The Lord will protect you on your journeys— whether going or coming— from now until forever from now.
They were setting their postures towards that of faith. They were moving forward in the face of fear and darkness and sword with hope, trust, and eyes set on something worth the journey.
Does this mean they took no precautions? Of course not. This is not some Western literalistic “rules for the road.”
This was a song. It was a heart cry. It was the people of God acknowledging the reality that life is hard. It was the people of God singing and acknowledging in the hardness that God was present and active.
Our ancestors in the faith had learned the lesson that they needed to step out into the hardness of the journey in a posture of faith. By doing so, they could trust one another, they could walk the journey without worry, and they could keep moving forward.
There is no delusion in this song. There is a recognition of the reality that they need protection, that they need help, and that the way is hard.
We too often pretend that this is not the case.
Their posture of faith allowed them to see the world as it really was. They knew the journey was hard, but they had hope.
How about us? Do we see the world as it really is? Will we acknowledge that it is hard but that there is hope?