watched her paintbrush slowly fill in the outline of her sketch on the wall at the end of the dormitory hallway, curious about how this verse she chose would be relevant to the twenty teenage girls about to move in. Between room checks and monitoring study hours, I would re-read the promise from Psalm 84:10 declaring that “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere” and wonder what it truly meant.
I was too young in my faith, and maybe even years, for it to make much sense. Instead of yearning for heaven, I dreamt of a week away at that hut on the beach my mother always talks about. As a thirty-something with two little girls to raise in addition to caring for the ones who filled my extended home, I couldn’t imagine heaven as a better place than being with my people or alone on the beach.
Fast-forward eighteen years and my perspective is a whole lot different. Psalm 84 leaps off the pages of my Bible with soul-deep comfort. From this vantage point, I feel the heartbeat of the Psalmist inviting me to hope, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord.”
Maybe you can relate to that longing too?
The Psalmist continues, “With my whole being, body, and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God.” Then he recounts the remarkable way a sparrow finds a home to build her nest and raise her young. It is indeed a strange season as my nest is starting to empty and at the same time, we find ourselves saying goodbye to aging parents. I see the promise of heaven in a new way compared to the treasures we have on this earth. I can’t help but recognize now that the “place near the altar of my King and my God” is even better than the beach (Psalm 84:3, NLT).
Maybe you find yourself in a similar place? That in-between of blessings and sorrows. The realization of what is coming to an end and the worry of what is ahead. Could this be what the Psalmist is referring to as the “Valley of Weeping” that will also “become a place of refreshing springs” with “Autumn rains [that] will clothe us with blessings” (Psalm 84:5-6, NLT)?
Yes, blessings and sorrows are not mutually exclusive. They are a both/and experience on earth that makes heaven even more remarkable.
The Psalmist continues by reminding us that “the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in you” (Psalm 84:11-12, NLT). What a wonderful promise to receive gifts of grace and glory, goodness and joy when we align our life with God’s Word and put our trust in the Lord!
Yes, it turns out this journey to eternity isn’t only about the destination. We don’t have to choose either/or, as I thought so many years ago. We can fully treasure today on earth and experience God’s blessings as we long for that better day in His courts when we sit at the altar in the presence of His glory.
Dear Lord, thank You for bestowing Your blessings on earth as we wait for the glory of heaven. We thank You that these blessings include joy, strength, grace, and glory as we walk through the Valley of Weeping and anticipate the refreshing rains to come. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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