Posted by: Postordinandy | July 3, 2012

Travelling through Baca to Zion

This is a re-post from a few years ago, from when I was working with a local church. I stumbled across it today, and was struck by how the both the challenge and hope promised within the journey remain. If, like me, you find yourself plodding through the spiritual and/or emotional desert, look for fellow travellers and encourage each other to keep going. It may not feel like it, but God is walking with you too – my experience is that I can see this is true for others, even when I cannot feel it for myself.


Looking at Psalm 84 together recently, some of us were struck by the image of a people travelling through a dry valley, with springs of water appearing as they pass the barrenness, (verse 6).

[Bizarrely, it made me think of the video to the song Take On Me by Aha: you know, black & white meets colour]

The people of Psalm 84 are on a pilgrimage to the holy city of Zion. The valley of Baca, (which means ‘tears’ according to most translations), is part of the recognised route – no tears, no Zion.

The instinct, of course, is to try and get to the glory of Zion without going through the valley of tears – but this is problematic on a number of levels. Firstly, the valley is on the way. To avoid the valley means a long, circuitous and arduous trek through equally challenging terrain. Secondly, there are other people in the valley: people for whom the valley has become the only reality; people with no hope that there is another way, another place to be; people who need fellow travellers to give them a renewed hope and a glimpse of the reachable destination. And thirdly, there is the reality that when a journey is easy it is too easily taken for granted, and the destination perhaps not enjoyed or appreciated in quite the same way.

Often, as a community travel together, we experience times of pain, uncertainty, and apparent weakness. These times are never cosy, but there is some comfort to be found in the mutual experience of struggle.

And for the people of God, travelling in a fallen world, the images of springs of water bubbling up as they pass through the desert are key too. Any mission God calls us to share in will have an element of this. We, as representatives of the great King of Zion, must endeavour to bring refreshment, life, vitality and hope to everywhere we go.

It is obvious to point out that we do not always manage this: our lives often feel as dry and unfruitful as the desert, and occasionally we might be tempted to keep any life-giving water we find to ourselves, for fear the well may otherwise run empty. But the living water that Jesus provides for us is for everyone, and – like the Samaritan woman – our instinct should be to let those we know what we have found, and how to access it for themselves.

Then, once we get to Zion, what a party we’ll have!

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