Time For God: Week 2

Written by: Paul Beckingham

Welcome back to Time For God. A special hello to first-time readers! Together, in week 2, you may have a question to pose. Some ask, Why focus on the Psalms? For more than two millennia the Psalms have been a walking partner for God’s Pilgrim People. They express every human emotion. They grant consent to be honest to God.

Others ask, Why the Songs of Ascent? They speak faith into this time of pandemic. They recall the three annual pilgrimages of God’s chosen people. The devotional obligation of devout Jews was to “go up” (or, “make aliyah”) to Jerusalem. One always goes up (never down) to Jerusalem. The Holy City’s lofty altitude is 779m, or 2556 feet. Visitors hike ascend uphill to reach the City on a Hill; the Temple’s elevation is spiritual. Observant Jews revered it as their centre of corporate worship.

Followers of Jesus are called to be a Pilgrim People. Never fully at home in a broken world, we make aliyah. We go up to the promised New Jerusalem. That Holy City will be manifested at Christ’s soon return. For now, we work to repair our world.

With God’s chosen people, we walk a path beset by physical, spiritual, and psychological dangers. They are real. Our present circumstances prove it. These Songs instruct your heart: it is impossible to have a need that God cannot fully meet.

The Songs of Ascent invite you to fully tell your story. With them, you address the Living God with meek boldness; He expects nothing less. Days of forced leisure let you sweep the clutter from your home; these psalms invite you to clear detritus from your heart. What to do with the debris? Give it to God. He accepts your offering. In return, He gives you mercy and grace, forgiveness and peace—a divine exchange!
Growing up in England, I attended an Anglican Primary School. Through the year, each class attended St. John’s Church, next door. We sang John Bunyan’s fearless hymn. It walks with me on my journey of faith. If you are not fluent in English, ask a native English speaker to help you with these words. They build faith in dark days.
He who would valiant be 'gainst all disaster
Let him in constancy follow the Master.
There's no discouragement shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim

Who so beset him round with dismal stories
Do but themselves confound—his strength the more is.
No foes shall stay his might; though he with giants fight
He will make good his right to be a pilgrim

Since, Lord, Thou dost defend us with Thy Spirit
We know we at the end, shall life inherit.
Then fancies flee away! I'll fear not what men say
I'll labor night and day to be a pilgrim.

Make no mistake. This cannot be accomplished without God. Let us never believe that we can conquer our circumstances in our own paltry strength. Impoverished resources will must fail us at every turn.

Scandalizing as it sounds, God has made you to depend only on Him. He releases His strength when most you need it.

This week, you will hear from the Songs of Ascent some honest accounts of how challenging the pilgrim journey is. God calls you to take that journey of faith.

You will also hear of God’s empowering presence. He will more than meet your deepest need. He is the God of abundant life. He gives more than you could ever imagine.
May you journey well this week. Know, too, that you are never alone. At every step, the Father goes before you; Christ Jesus walks beside you; the Holy Spirit remains as your Rearguard and Protector.