I haven’t ever really read The Message Bible much. The times I have read it are when it’s quoted in a book or sermon… but never really picked it up for myself. I think it’s an awesome thought to put Scripture in modern-day Western language, but most of the time, I’m more impacted by other translations… I think my Bible is ESV? Not that that matters. I’m on a rabbit trail now. : ) All of that to say, it was really strange to me the other day when I saw The Message New Testament and Psalms & Proverbs on the bookshelf and felt a quickening in me to pick it up. I sat up on our barstool in the kitchen with my decaf coffee, and opened to Psalm 127.
A Pilgrim Song of Solomon
1-2 If God doesn’t build the house, the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn’t guard the city,
the night watchman might as well nap.
It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?
3-5 Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you; you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep.
It still moves me to read that, days later. I heard His voice in it… to me. In ten short weeks, a sweet little girl named Lucy is going to be here, and I will be tangibly walking in every word of this Psalm. It’s useless for me to try and build my own thing, hold my own thing together, guard it with my life. When I was reading and meditating on those first verses, a wave of thankfulness came over me… but He IS the builder of our house. He IS the One guarding it.
“Don’t you know He enjoys giving rest to those He loves?” — I’m hanging that on the wall of Lucy’s room somehow. I will need to be reading that often.
His “generous legacy” … His “best gift”. The ESV translation of that verse is, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (v. 3) Powerful. Powerful promises. How often does our culture paint the coming of children as an inconvenience and even a detour from our REAL purpose and potential? What lies have we been told! They are a legacy, a gift, a heritage, a reward from Him. Quite a different picture, huh?
Since reading that, my mind has been in that place. My heart’s been dwelling on how He builds a house, how He creates heritages, legacies, stories through us. Lucy’s birth, and the birth of my sister-in-law Marla’s daughter Anna in a few days, and my nephew Cohen’s birth, are a part of His story/legacy/heritage… the building and expanding of His Kingdom. Wow.
The thought (I’ve got a sneaky suspicion it came from Him) came to me this morning as I was reading Psalm 127 again … yes, He is building “our” house, as far as Shane & I’s family. Yes, He’s building us, we’re built on His foundation. But, just like I may have sixty more years at best, Lucy (and her brothers & sisters in the future) isn’t going to live forever, and neither will her children, nor her children’s children. Our “house” is so, so, so temporary. The reality is, it’s being built in the shadow of a house that can’t pass away, in a Name stronger and longer-lasting than Barnard. In the unmatchable Name of Jesus, He’s building (through us and myriads of other generations and families) His Kingdom.
Sunday morning I was reading an old entry in my journal and came across a morning I was in Matthew 13, reading all the different parables Jesus used to describe the Kingdom. A sower’s seed, a tiny mustard seed growing into a large tree, leaven in three measures of flour, the treasure hidden in the field, a pearl of great value, etc. I just wrote them out in a list, and noticed while I was re-reading them… they all are pointing to something hidden, or at least something that needs to be revealed.
Do we want to know what the Kingdom of God looks like? What our stories in it look like? … it can only be revealed.
Like seed going into the ground and sprouting and bearing fruit in due season.
Like a tiny, insignificant mustard seed going into the ground, dying, and growing larger than any of the other garden plants.
Like leaven hidden in flour, making it rise and expand over time.
Like a treasure hidden in a field, that when a man finds it, he realizes its worth enough to go and sell all he has in order to buy that field.
Like a pearl of great value, that when a merchant finds it, goes and sells all he has in order to buy it.
I’m just… encouraged by that truth in this season of my life. I probably always will be. Like all of those other parables, the parable of my life will continue to unveil and reveal the worth of the King and His Kingdom in each new season. So, when I’m waking up numerous times throughout the night here in a few months, when I’m begging for Him to give us rest, when worry and anxiety grip my heart and I want to guard her and “my” house with all my might, I can remember: HE is the One building us, and guarding us. But more than that, beyond that, better than that, He is building His Kingdom, even in us, and revealing it.
He’s so good. He’s really, really good. I love Him and can’t wait to turn the page and see what the next parable in the Barnards He’s going to tell in order to point to His Kingdom. I can’t begin to imagine how beautiful the next one will be.