Psalm 84, Revisited

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone and also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. The sequel to One Smooth Stone will be released in 2011Visit her website at

A friend posted a cartoon on Facebook the other day. The big dog is asking, “What exactly is a New Year’s resolution?” The answer made me chuckle – “It’s a to-do list for the first week of January.”

Like many people, I’ve been working on my to-do list, hoping it lasts a little longer than the first week of the new year. I’ve been pondering my writing life, assessing and setting goals and trying to decide what’s next. The sequel to my first novel will be released this year, and I know there is a long editing process yet to be done to bring that book to the marketplace, but once that is finished, I’ve been trying to discern what path I should take. I’ve been praying, and have asked others to pray, but so far no clear direction has been given. The options lay before me like juicy pieces of tropical fruit on a platter. I know all of them will taste good, all of them will be nourishing and all of them will bear more fruit according to their kind. But which one is what God wants for me?

I was getting a little tense because the answer wasn’t clear, until I remembered something I told my daughter when she was trying to make a decision about the direction of her life. I’d come across Psalm 84 and e-mailed verses 3 and 4 to her, because they struck a cord. I pulled out my Bible and read them again.

“Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young – a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.” (Ps. 84:3-4).
As I read those words I pictured those tiny birds flying high over the temple in Jerusalem. I thought about all that they would have seen and heard – the priests and believers coming and going to offer sacrifices, the songs sung in praise and worship, and above all, the presence of God in that place. I thought how true it is, even today, that we must nest close to the Lord and his people.

So many times God has told us this – stay close, let me gather you under my wing, hide yourself in me, abide in me. I think he said it so often because He knows how prone we are to not do it. We pull away so quickly; we find reasons to stay away, to our detriment.
It’s interesting that the very next verse talks not about resting in one place, but about those “who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.” The principle is clear: You don’t have to stay in one place, or make any one decision, to stay close to the Lord. Whether we choose one path or another for our lives or our careers, as long as we stay close to the Lord, depending on Him for strength and guidance, praising and thanking Him, we will be in the right place. It was because those little birds were nesting in the courts of the Lord that they could fly high and far in any direction they chose.

So my prayer has changed from, “Lord show me what to do,” to, “Lord, help me to stay close to You.”