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April 6, 2020


Another Trek, Another Test,

Another Triumph !

My Dear Friend,

     Our title expresses what the author of Psalm 84 had in mind: his annual trek to the festival of Tabernacles in Jerusalem.

     With his heart set on spending time in God's courts, he set out to Jerusalem annually. But on his way to tabernacle with God he met trouble.

     That trouble came in the "Valley of Baca," whose precise location is disputed. Baca (lit., dripping; or weeping) speaks of sadness, sorrow, even grief. Perhaps this was the Valley of Rephaim with its Baca trees that "weeped" gum, or Ain el-Haramijeh, a "gloomy narrow valley where brackish water trickles out of the rocks," making it a "valley of oozing water or tears" (Zondervan EOB). Or perhaps it was another valley without such physical features in which pilgrims faced danger from thieves or wild animals or treacherous terrain, thus eliciting their tears. We don't know.

     But whatever the physical location or difficulties of this historic "Baca," we know it speaks of the sorrows of our trials of faith. So on his way to Tabernacles the psalmist experienced something troublesome, something sorrowful - showing us that to have "tabernacles," we must have troubles also. If we want the fullness of God we must be willing to endure the troubles of life.

     But, surprise! Amid his sorrows this pilgrim found refreshment, early rains and clean pools filled with delicious fresh water to slake his traveler's thirst. (And we must remember, fresh sweet water was such a great blessing in Israel's typically arid land!) Thus, God's grace was sufficient. What the psalmist feared would become a place of ruinous sorrows became instead "a place of refreshing springs" (Ps. 84:6, NLT). In the end, his trek through the valley of sorrow became a transformative experience.

     He emerged refreshed, stronger, and unintimidated - refreshed by drinking heavenly water in a hellish valley, strengthened by the growing anticipation of being nearer God in Jerusalem, and freed from his former fears of the Valley of Baca! When he entered Jerusalem he was a changed man - transformed by trouble, strengthened by sorrow, victorious in the valley. But the forging of his faith wasn't finished.

     The same thing happened every year. Every year he went through Baca training. Every year he "passed through" the Valley of Baca on his way to God's courts. Every year he grew stronger and more unafraid. Every year he became more confident God would see him through that valley to victory. Every year he grew more convinced he would not fail in Baca but flourish there, enjoying reviving living waters daily. Thus, he wrote of himself, "They will continue to grow stronger" (84:7, NLT).

     As the years passed, he became stronger in faith in his unfailingly faithful God. And his testimony at Tabernacles also grew more convincing and gripping to less experienced worshipers in the way. As he spoke, they took heart. As he expressed his faith, they abandoned their fears. The more he cast his vision, the more they set their hearts. Our lesson?

     Sometimes we pass through Valleys of Baca and sense we've been there before - if not the same test, then a very similar test or temptation or challenge. Perhaps last month. Perhaps last year. Perhaps several years ago. And we wonder, why am I in this valley again?

     Obviously, it could be we've disobeyed there and, like the Israelites, are lapping around another time in the wilderness of sin. But, if after honest self-examination we can say that's not the reason, Psalm 84 is God's message to us. And a turning point.

     Some weary ones cry, "Enough, God!" and turn back. And Christ, sadly, lets them go. But committed God-seekers like the psalmist won't do this. They can't. God's presence means more than their pleasure. Walking with Him daily is their imperative and everything else is expendable. They must "tabernacle," or live close to Him. For them, trouble is not too great a price to pay for this. Do you have that kind of heart?

     How spiritually strong do you want to be? Merely like Lot? Or like David, Joseph, and Paul? How much kingdom fruit do you wish to bear - forty, sixty, or one hundredfold? How much spiritual power do you want your counsel and teaching to have? Do you want your ministry to lift those who, discouraged and offended, are failing in their valleys and never learning to walk closely with God, ever trekking toward yet never arriving in God's courts?

     Please don't terminate your trek! Many Christian pilgrims with severe traveler's thirst await a word of encouragement, an insight from the depths, a word of guidance in the dark, an empowered prayer of deliverance, through you! And you'll receive that spiritual strength, that power to minister, only in the valley.

     So let your motto be, "Another trek, another test, another triumph," or "Another day, another dilemma, another deliverance," and you are growing "the stronger as you go." "Happy are they who nerved by thee, set out on pilgrimage! When they pass through Weary-glen, fountains flow for their refreshing, blessings rain upon them; they are the stronger as they go" (Psalm 84:5-7, Moffatt).

Trekking, triumphing, tabernacling, testifying,

Greg Hinnant
Greg Hinnant Ministries

       Greg Hinnant Ministries
PO Box 788, High Point, NC 27261