It’s been a week. The first week of whatever is meant by “the new normal.” While so much has changed, still so much is the same. The term surreal has come up more than once in different conversations. But as I reflect this morning, that’s not the right word. It has been neither bizarre nor dreamlike. The right word to describe this week is peace.
This week I really have known a deep rooted peace that somehow you think shouldn’t be. But one that very much exists and very much has been a “peace that surpasses understanding” (Php. 4:7). God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand (NLT). And as I’m reminded this morning reading Psalm 46, it’s peace like a river.
Some thoughts I had back on this passage back in 2009 and 2012 ministered to my soul this morning. Thought I’d chew on them again as I rework them for this morning’s meal.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
(Psalm 46:4-5 ESV)
There is a river. That’s the thought that resonates this morning.
Just for a bit of context, the theme of Psalm 46 is God as “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (v.1). Twice the Psalmist assures the reader that “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (v. 7, 11). Despite the chaos of the earth giving away, of mountains falling into the sea, of the seas roaring and foaming, of the mountains quaking and surging, the songwriter proclaims, “We will not fear” (v.2-3).
How come there’s no fear? Why an absence of angst? Because there is a river! A river teeming with waters of renewal and refreshment. With a deep inner flow of calm and strength. A river steadily delivering a peace which passes understanding.
The mountains might fail, the seas may rage, but there is a river whose streams make glad and causes rejoicing even when things seem kind of out of control.
And the river is sourced in the place where God dwells, in the most holy habitation of the Most High. And so, for those who make their way to the holy dwelling places of the Most High, there is a river . . . and there is peace.
A Samaritan woman was told that if she would, by faith, receive the water that Jesus offered, that it would become in her “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). Jesus promised to those who thirsted, that if they would believe and come to Him to meet their thirst then out of their hearts would “flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). The source of that river? The abiding presence of God through His Spirit. And, in the heavenly New Jerusalem, where God will dwell in all His glory among His redeemed, there is “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city” (Rev. 22:1-2).
God in the midst is the source of that river that makes glad the city of God.
So often we wait until we have peace before drawing near to His holy habitation. Somehow thinking that it is peace which produces worship, that we need to feel it before we can praise Him. Instead, the songwriter tells us that gladness is found at the place of worship. That peace comes when, despite the storms and chaos of life, we again behold the works of God and the proof they bring that God is our refuge and strength.
Thus, we should determine to be found in the holy place of the Most High. We should purpose, regardless of circumstance, to put ourselves in that place where we can exalt Him. That’s when we encounter the river. That’s when its tributary streams flow through all those whose come in their need, thirsting for the things of God. That’s when the streams calm the inner storm.
Mine is to travel to that place. To behold the Lord in the beauty of holiness. To be still and know He is God. To recall His mighty works. To declare His wondrous praise. And to drink deeply of the river.
There is a river . . . within all, and available to all, who have been made a holy habitation of God by faith, whose bodies have been claimed as a temple of God.
There is a river . . . which will flow within the quieted heart, though among disquieted circumstance, as it sits before His Word in awe and wonder.
There is a river . . . which should reach flood stage, Lord’s Day after Lord’s Day, when the people of God come together, combining their trickling streams into a grand fountain of worship.
There is a river . . . which, regardless of circumstance, brings gladness and joy. Refreshing waters that lead to rejoicing, praise, and peace–a peace that passes understanding.
There is a river. Let the river flow!
Through His abundant, all-sufficient grace. For His eternal, all-deserving glory.