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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Beyond The Weeping Willow

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.
Upon the willows in the midst of it we hung our harps.
For there our captors demanded of us songs, and our tormentors mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”
How can we sing the LORD’S song in a foreign land?
Psalm 137:1-4 NASB

The air is fresh and the garden is beautiful. Walking among God’s creation always calms my anxious heart and reminds me that I serve a God of wonder and majesty. There is no limit to his creative handiwork. Every single flower, plant, bush, and tree is testimony of yet another masterpiece. The Master Gardener slips up beside me and softly says, “Paula, you too are a masterpiece.” Today I am feeling lavishly loved by the Father, but in all honesty there have been times when I did not feel his love.
Every once in a while life hands us a blow that knocks us off our feet, takes us out of the game, and sends our spirit reeling down a path that is clothed in surprise, devastation, and sorrow. Life happens and in the process takes us captive and carries us off to a place where we do not want to go. We wake up in a foreign land, a place where we have never been before. It is a place of extreme loss. We find ourselves on a precarious ledge teetering on the brink of despair. We weep as we remember our perfect Zion. Zion, the place we did not choose to leave.  All of the praise and worship songs we have sung in the past have left our heart and we cannot remember the words nor can we remember the melody. Our friends offer words of comfort as they try to stir within us one of the songs of Zion. But how can we sing the Lord’s song in this new and foreign land of loss and suffering. So for a season, we hang our harps on the willows and the singing stops. We find we cannot go on singing. At least not yet.
Still walking with the Master Gardner, I see in the distance a beautiful “Weeping Willow” tree. Graceful branches bend nearly to the ground. Delicate pale green leaves create a welcoming softness. I remember that the children of Zion hung their harps on the willows and sat down and wept. The Master Gardner says, “I know what you are thinking. Those who love the Lord should not weep. But oh my child, you will weep, I myself have shed a tear or two, especially in the Garden of Gethsemane.” I reply, “Yes Lord, I remember”. Then his words come like a breath of fresh air when he says, “…weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”  Psalm 30:5b
As I think back to my own days of despair and sadness I remember that I finally did get the strength to walk to the other side of the willow. I reluctantly took my harp from the branches and moved beyond the “Weeping Willow”. I saw stretched before me a path of newness. I realized that it was the Master who was leading the way. My head was bent and my spirit was still cast down but I could see the hem of His garment. I knew that I must stay focused on his garment or I might turn around and run back to my sorrow.
I clearly remember that on that day, as I walked the path of newness, the Master Gardner restored the joy of my salvation. I began the walk away from what had been and now I dared to enter a newness that I could not have imagined. God was making everything new. God was filling the hole in my heart with new things. With every step down this path of newness I experienced peace. Glancing back over my shoulder I saw “old loss” waving its hand goodbye and smiling at me as I walked further and further away. Then “loss” blew me a final kiss that said, “Be happy! Keep following the Master. Experience his joy as you walk his path that winds around and beyond the “Weeping Willow”.
I remember catching up to the Master. He allowed me to run a bit ahead so he could take pleasure in my trust and obedience. As I looked back at the master, instead of seeing the hem of his garment, I saw his beautiful face. We exchange smiles and I felt an amazing praise and worship song coming on! I could no longer remain silent! It was the song of the soul set free! I begin to stroke the harp and joyfully sing. “I will give You thanks with all my heart; I will sing praises to You before the gods. The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness. O LORD, is everlasting;” Psalm 138:1, 8a NASB
I will always remember the pleasant days gone by and I will treasure wonderful memories, but no longer will I mourn. I will sing to the top of my lungs that there is life beyond the “Weeping Willow” and I will pray that my song will bring glory to my Heavenly Father

  1. When was the last time you suffered great loss?
  2. Did you hang your harp on the “Weeping Willow”?
  3. Where is your harp now?
  4. Can you rejoice in knowing that there is life on the other side of the “Weeping Willow”?
  5. Do you see that on this God given path of newness God will reveal to you a glorious fresh plan that can be used for his glory?
Dear Father,
I have suffered loss on many occasions. I thank you Father that you have always been there to lead me beyond the “Weeping Willow” at just the right time. I praise you that during these times you have always allowed me to linger on the bank of the “River of Grief” for a season as you daily applied your comfort and healing to my spirit. I know loss will again at some point knock on my door. Nonetheless, always help me to know when it is time to pick up my harp and move on to the other side of the “Weeping Willow”. Father I pray today for all those who are weeping. Comfort them as only you can. Restore to them their harp and their song and lead them to the other side of the “Weeping Willow”.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.