One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. Psalm 27:4
I trust you are enjoying the transition into the fall season. Hopefully things will cool off in your part of the world soon. Football is starting, and the kids can make some new friends at school. May God bless this new, exciting chapter of our lives.
Our family is doing well. Maria is doing her student teaching in a third grade class in a neighboring community. She loves it and is doing a terrific job. It is hard to believe she will graduate in December. She just turned 21 a month ago!
Victoria and Noah are doing great. Victoria started a new job as the choir director for the Conway Middle School, which has one of the top choir programs around. She has to drive a bit each day, as does Noah, but they don’t seem to mind.
Rebekah and Tim are surviving the flooding that New Jersey has experienced lately. They continue to serve in their local church and enjoy time spent with Tim’s family. Rebekah relishes the role of “auntie.”
Leah and I are trying to recover from a three month battle with illness and injury. I had a kidney stone, colon obstruction, and then bronchitis. Leah tore her meniscus and still has a cough that just won’t leave her alone. We did not get COVID, which is a blessing. Sorry to those of you who may have called, emailed, or messaged us. We didn’t feel much like corresponding. We did meet a nice man from Nigeria when we took a cab to the doctor. We had a great discussion about our families and our faith. His family was supposed to join him here sometime soon. Please pray for their reunion.
Since I lost the ability to drive, I miss the freedom that comes with just getting in the car and hitting the road. I drove almost daily to one of our local parks or walking trails. One of the destinations I miss most is Lake Dardanelle State Park, just ten minutes from our house. I really miss the sunsets. Here are a few pics from the park from the Only in Arkansas website.
I was recently praying about some of the losses I experienced in recent years because of illness. The loss of dreams, plans, vocation, ministry opportunities, and independence have been tough, but have taught me several wonderful lessons. One of the most important is illustrated by Psalm 27:4. King David was in one of the many time periods in his life when he was concerned about his enemies doing him harm. Yet, in this moment of great turmoil, his one desire and request was to dwell in the house of God and gaze on His beauty.
This wording may make some uncomfortable. Many men have criticized some modern worship music as “girlfriend songs.” I am not sure what songs were being referred to or what exactly was meant, but I think these critics may have a misunderstanding of this idea of “beauty.” Beauty is not just a sexual thing. The beauty of the park or the sunsets across the lake are indeed beautiful and have nothing to do with sexuality. They inspire the heart and bring pleasure and joy to the soul. That is the meaning of Scripture and of this text. The beauty of God takes our breath away and gives meaning to our lives and strength to our hearts. This is what David knows he needs when all else seems dire. He needs to experience God face-to-face.
He continues with this theme in verses 7-8:
Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
“Face” and “presence” are synonyms in the Old Testament. David wants to meet with God and have a face-to-face meeting to talk, to listen, and to experience His Presence and friendship.
God reminds us in the Old Testament that because He is holy and we are not, we “cannot see my (God’s) face, for man shall not see me and live.” How wonderful that because of the finished work of Jesus we can now enjoy God face-to-face! This is the same Jesus described as one with “no beauty that we should desire him.” This same Jesus opens our eyes to the beauty of God!
If you find yourself in a time of trouble, you may be reminded about what is really important. And what is of extreme importance is God. Knowing God. Enjoying friendship with Him. Gazing upon His beauty.
Where David knows he can gaze upon God is not just in nature or in a moment of solitude and silence, it is in the tent of God. This is the place of sacrifice and worship. It is a smelly, loud, but wonderful place where God’s people gather to be reconciled to Him and worship Him. What better place to meet with God than with others who reflect His image and want to seek Him together. That is where you will find Him. Going through loss has taught me what is really important. The things I lost are temporary and cannot ever truly satisfy. Only friendship with God is eternal and fulfilling. This is what I need to seek. This is what you need to seek.
Tim Keller tells the story of Allan Gardner, who in the 1850’s sailed off to South America to open a mission station to reach those who never heard of Jesus. He left everything behind to give his life to God’s service. He never made it. His ship went down and he found himself stranded on an island, where he died of starvation and thirst. Later, his body and his personal journal were found. His last entry was Psalm 34:10: The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. He then added, “I am overwhelmed with a sense of the goodness of God.” How could this man who was a failure as a missionary, who was in agony because of hunger and thirst, write these words? Why didn’t he cry out in anger to God, “God, I gave up everything for you! How could You allow this to happen to me?” It was because He knew what David wrote in Psalm 27. Nothing matters more than the goodness and beauty of God.
How can I pray for you? Please let me know. We love and appreciate you!
Brian Heinen 802 E 23rd Street Russellville, AR 72802 (479) 886-0765