5 What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
6 When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
7 They will continue to grow stronger,
and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem. (Psalm 84)
At the beginning of January, I was reading my daily Bible reading. Psalm 84 happened to be the daily "assignment" from the book of Psalms. Little did I expect God to speak to me with such magnitude.
You see, this year is going to be a year of change for me. For my husband. For my children. And normally, I don't like change. I like schedules. I like predictable days. I enjoy planning. I keep a calendar on my fridge in order to always know what is coming up. I hound my husband for his work calendar months in advance. But this year ... Eli is starting seminary. After graduating from college in 2003 (with no formal schooling since then), he is returning to the student life, albeit a different one that he previously experienced as a single male!
I'm so grateful that God has given us this opportunity. This guidance. The support within our families and church to take a step of faith. But now the changes. He has to study. He has to drive three plus hours one weekend a month this semester to attend the class. We have to pay for classes. We have to anticipate a few more years of study before graduation. It's exciting! But it's change.
Will he be able to maintain his current "commuting" job while studying and taking classes? I don't know. Can we truly make it through a whole master's program debt-free? I hope so. How will this change affect our evenings together as a family? I can't predict that. How am I to find my God-given helpmate role within all this? I'm scared I won't!
But then God spoke. He gave me Psalm 84:5-7. The only way I will have joy this year is to ultimately find my strength in Him. I must set my heart on the "pilgrimage" this year brings with Him as my focus. I believe this year will be a pilgrimage of sorts for me ... with valleys and mountains. Tough times and wonderful times. But if I can truly walk through this time of changes with my heart set on Him, then He will refresh me and bring the rains of His presence when I am dry.
My prayer is that I am stronger by the end. Not stronger within myself because I "made it through", but stronger in my faith in my Maker. Willing to take the risks that faith in Him requires. Not just willing, but excited and joyful. And I find that I am! I'm ready to see where the pilgrimage may lead.