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There is an old commercial, for shampoo, perhaps, where the gorgeous model looks at the camera and says in a sultry voice, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful”. An obnoxious commercial, but remarkable in its staying power in my mind. Sadly for the advertisers, I DON’T remember what product they were advertising. I sure remember that pretty girl, though…, or at least what she said. Because jealousy, like hope, springs eternal. Yes?
Well, after eating that last big slab of humble pie in front of y’all, you’d think I’d be past bragging, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you?
In the immortal words of Tweety Bird, “He don’t know me vewee well, do he?”
Once again, I will blame it all on poor Beth Moore, that perky little Texas gal who wrote the Bible study I am currently engaged in, which is called “Stepping Up: A Journey through the Psalms of Ascent”. In case you’ve not been following along, she has us read, ponder and re-write these psalms so that they become very personally applicable. Not that we can improve upon the Word of God, but just for the exercise of hearing how the Holy Spirit might be speaking a word to us as individuals.
So, this morning, I was searching for how to make this particular psalm apply to my life experience. The psalm is Psalm 125. Here’s the text:
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people
both now and forevermore
The scepter of the wicked will not remain
over the land alloted to the righteous,
for then the righteous might use
their hands to do evil.
Do good, O Lord, to those who are good,
to those who are upright in heart.
But those who turn to crooked ways
the Lord will banish with the evildoers.
Peace be upon Israel.
So how does all this relate to the title of my post and my first paragraph?
Well, it’s not that I think that I’m beautiful. But, I have had the very great blessing of getting to live for a short time in one of the world’s most beautiful places. And it ain’t braggin if it’s the truth. For a year and a half I lived in this beautiful place: Lausanne, Switzerland.
And my roommates and I did quite a few excursions into the mountains to do hikes, and to just explore this amazingly beautiful country. And so when I think of the mountains surrounding Jerusalem (and yes, I got to travel there, too) I think, “You call those mountains???”
(This is a picture of mountains near Lausanne, just across the lake, called Les Dents du Midi)
Being as the Israelite who wrote this psalm was lacking El Al (Israel’s national airline) to fly him over to Switzerland so he could see some REAL mountains, I should probably cut him a break, right? But I have had that glorious experience. And really, glorious is not too big an adjective here. Spectacular, breathtaking – all these apply.
So, please, don’t hate me because I’ve lived someplace beautiful.
Just bear with me. And try to imagine if you haven’t been there (and to remember if you have ) the icy Alpine winds, the almost eerie quiet as you listen to the wind blowing through the valley, and then the twitter of the song birds, and the orchestral clang of distant cow bells. They really DO wear those bells, those lovely bovine ladies. Have a seat on a boulder, and take a nibble off your Swiss chocolate bar to regain a little energy after your long hike through the mountains, and think of how absolutely calm and serene and secure these mountain chalets feel. They are hemmed in behind and before by mountains. And Switzerland is a neutral nation besides. What peace! What beauty! What security! You are in a mountain fortress, equipped with the world’s best cheese and chocolate and some lovely white wines, too. Who would ever want to leave this?
Well, that is the image that I carry with me in my mind as I attempted to write my own version of this psalm.
Those who trust in the Lord
are as secure as the mighty mountains of Switzerland –
they seem to be unshakeable –
like they’ve always been here, and always will be here.
And just as the Swiss Alps surround
one of her tiny mountain villages
so the Lord Himself surrounds His people,
both now and forever.
Our enemy will not rule over
the life of the one who belongs to God.
Our lives are not to serve him.
Do what is good, Lord, to those You have made righteous in Christ.
But as for those who truly turn back to follow the enemy,
Banish them with those who are already avowedly his.
May those who belong to You experience true peace.
If I belong to God, Scripture says that God Himself surrounds me. This doesn’ t mean (sadly) that nothing bad will ever happen to me or to those I love. But what it does mean is that I am secure in Him, no matter what trials may come, and that His love will sustain, strengthen and support me every step of the way. That He is 100% for me, even when life throws situations at me that leave me feeling shaken to the core, and gasping for air.
So, for this moment, I just want to thank God for surrounding me, and for the security that those who belong to Him have in Him. He is my mighty Rock, my fortress.
Belonging to Him: I am His, and He is mine. This is what brings true peace, in a very uncertain world.