01 April 2010

250 Words About My Favorite Bible Verse

When the LORD restored the fortunate of Zion *
then were we like those who dream.
(Psalm 126:1, BCP Psalter)

Our hope as Christians is for restoration with God, our neighbors, and ourselves, through Christ. I can think of no better way to describe the joy of that restoration than to note that, when we experience it, we are "as dreamers." As a trained and duly pragmatic engineer, I need this verse's insistence that we should not be content with a small-potatoes promise; God's abundance extends beyond all that our most wild and reckless dreams can come up with. At the same time, I find it possible to trust this verse so deeply because of what we learn from it in the wider context of the psalm. We live and minister in a kingdom that is already here and has not yet fully arrived, and so it should resonant deeply when the psalmist goes on to call for God's re-restoration of Zion. When the verb tense changes in verse 5 (thank you, Dr. Ferlo), reminding us that our earthly fortunes will always be like the rhythmic waxing and waning of “the watercourses of the Negev,” the imagery from verse 1 makes even more sense. The LORD is also with us in our deprivation, and in those decidedly darker dreams it produces. For me, the sustaining witness of this verse is that in most moments of our lives, all our joy and thanksgiving (“O LORD, we are restored!”) intermingles with all our hope and even regret (“O LORD, restore us!”), and God declares the whole lot good.

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