Focus; June 26, 2021


Psalm 84:5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.

It’s a little difficult to read Psalm 84 because of all the songs that pop up in my head! It has certainly been used by God to bless many people through music. That’s definitely appropriate, since the introduction indicates it was intended to be musical. (I wonder if gittith is a tune name, a musical style, or a particular instrument?) This particular verse talks about those who are set on drawing near to God. The Japanese expresses it as, “in whose hearts is the highway to Zion.” I wonder if the NIV translators were just trying to be more relatable to the average English-speaking reader, or if they were actively trying to avoid being taken for “Zionists?” If the latter, it’s sad indeed. Zion was the physical location of the tabernacle of David, where the Ark of the Covenant, and thus the very presence of God, was available to all. When our hearts are fixated on drawing near to God, to being in His presence, then He does flood us with His strength. As he told Paul, and as countless believers have experienced, His power is indeed “made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Often our own weakness forces us to focus and depend on Him, and that is precisely why God allows all sorts of difficulties in our lives. Thinking that we can get by without God is the surest way to failure, and it leads to eternity apart from Him. We aren’t to be desperate and anxious about it, but we do need to be careful to keep our focus on God and what He desires. The Bible tells us that in countless ways.

Yesterday I watched a video in which Dennis Prager, a devout Jew, said that his relationship with God wasn’t one of love, but that he really wanted to do whatever God wanted of him. In a way I found that admirable, but in another way I found it sad. I continue to pray that Dennis, whom I respect very much, will discover and acknowledge that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, and through that, open his heart to the love of God expressed so famously in John 3:16. Too many Christians leave off the “doing whatever God wants” part, but the motivation for obedience should be love that is a response to God’s love for us. I grew up convinced that God loved me, and I avowed my love for Jesus in return, but my obedience was spotty. For that matter, it’s still not perfect, but He’s working on me! I am deeply grateful that He has indeed placed “the highway to Zion” in my heart, and I rejoice to travel on it, ever closer to Him.

Father, thank You for drawing me to Yourself. Thank You for my hunger for more of You, and less of myself. May I be effective in drawing others along with me as I draw near to You, so that together we may give You the thanks, praise, and obedience You alone deserve, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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