As the mountains surround Jerusalem,

so the LORD surrounds his people,

from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 125: 2

 

Mountains are impressive. When viewed from below their height can be magnificent on the one hand and rather frightening on the other. They provide welcome relief from the flatness that occupies large expanses of the earth’s surface, but for a traveler who is encountering it, a mountain range presents a sort of fearful obstacle to be overcome. They bring shelter from storms in some seasons and in others the fury of that weather seems to roll down their sides with the ferocity of a hungry wild beast. People have settled in mountain valleys for thousands of years because of the resources that are often available in the valley floor and on the slopes of the hills. Their slopes, whether steep sided or soft and rounded, provide us with a vista onto our world that feels like it is close to the one that God posses; yet, when we are standing there, our feet are still planted firmly on His creation.

 

God’s presence in our world can seem like all of these impressions of mountains. He is wondrous and also fearful. He grants to us the joy and the delight of living in this world, and He also challenges people with the lofty stature of His righteousness. The Lord protects us from the evil that rages in our world, but He also leads us into its dangerous places as we submit to Christ’s will and travel the roads that He takes us along. There are times in our lives when our Lord removes the hand of protection from us and from the world where we live so that we will turn from reliance upon its enchantments and return to a loving and fully committed relationship with Him. As we enter into an existence of worship with prayer, contemplation, and God’s Word forming the lyrics of our own life-hymns, we are transported by His Spirit out of the shadows of fear and doubt that attempt to engulf our hearts and minds and we are lifted up into a fuller appreciation of God’s eternal being.

 

The magnificent presence of the Lord is also warm and accessible. He enfolds His people in an embrace that stays engaged until the need is soothed and the heart is comforted. God is both mighty and intimate at the same time. He is the creator of all that exists, and He is the one who knows the smallest details of each of our lives. In Christ, He rejoined our journey along the roads of this world, and through Christ we are taken out of sin’s death and placed into the eternity of God’s Kingdom of love, grace, mercy, and peace. People go through life searching for a place to call home where their needs can be met; yet, Christ provides the answer to that desire. He brings us to a new dwelling place in the now and forevermore Kingdom of God where each of His people have purpose within Christ’s plan and enjoy the unending love that He pours out on us.

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5: 17

 

It seems to me that foolishness is something that people fear more when we are young than when we have attained maturity in years. Most youth try hard to conform to the standards of behavior within their group of friends and acquaintances in order to avoid those foolish moments when they say or do something that draws all eyes onto their frailty. As we go through life the consequences for acting in foolish ways get much greater, but our aversion to these forms of thinking and acting seems to diminish greatly. I think that this might be the result of the way that our egos and our sense of self-determination develop over time.

 

The Apostle Paul is stating his best understanding of God’s view on how to live as a fully committed and totally engaged follower of Christ. Paul not only knows what that means in personal terms, but he also appreciates the change that takes place at the core of a person’s heart, mind, and soul when this commitment is made. Paul has been transformed into the new man that Christ desires to create in each of us. This new person knows the difference between foolishness and wise living. As Christ dwells within him, he is granted the gift of God’s eternal perspective on life today, and he is provided with guidance in the choices and decisions that he needs to make on a continual basis.

 

You see, the foolishness of our later years can lead to consequences that are far worse than embarrassment. The foolish thoughts and their resultant actions that come about when we set aside God’s view of righteousness and truth can lead to death. Even if the body is not harmed as a result of what is done in defiance of God, anytime we move away from the Lord, we step away from life and into the death of sin. However, this is exactly Paul’s point. In Christ we do not need to live in this manner any longer. In Christ we are made new. Through Christ we also enter into the grace of forgiveness and the gift of purpose for the remaining days of this life. So, in Christ’s purpose for our lives, we find wisdom, direction, and enter into the fullness of life.

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37: 3, 4

 

Sometimes where we are is where we should be, and what we are doing is the very thing that will bring fulfillment to us and put a smile on God’s face. The job that we have, the city where we live, and especially the relationships that we are engaged in are usually gifts from Him. What we do with them, and how we act while doing it are the things that we get to choose.

 

David is telling us that we need to embrace God’s view of life, for the Lord wants us to trust Him enough to go deep into our world, to get to know the people who live there, and to let them know us. When he says that we should dwell in the land, David is telling us that God wants us to take up residence in our world in a well-invested and deeply committed manner. We need to demonstrate our faithfulness to involvement in people’s lives. This is the way that Christ interacts with me, and this is the way that the Lord wants me to demonstrate Him in my community. When we bring love, compassion, grace, and humility to our neighborhoods, we share the Lord with our neighbors in real and understandable ways.

 

This all starts with trust and with focus. We need to trust God to equip and to protect us, and we can count upon Christ to produce the outcome as we go out into our world without the defense mechanisms that we might normally employ. We need to turn our hearts and our minds toward Christ and keep Him and His love clearly in view so that the real purpose and Christ’s motivation for our actions stay continually defined. Thus, as we delight in the Lord and allow Him access to our hearts and as we live openly in faith and trust in our community, God brings joy, peace, and fulfillment to us. Also, our world will become a better place as one person here and another there come to know the source of peace and love that does change everything. With the Christ’s purpose in mind and His presence in my life, this land is my perfect dwelling place.