Thursday, 27 October 2016

A generous portion

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places... ~ Psalm 16:6

This morning I stood on the deck, over-looking this piece of earth that we have the privilege to live on. I never tire of the wide, free view. An open arc of mountain, forest, and valley in the distance. A gift each day to lift eyes up and fill me with gratitude. Our smallest son has vowed never to leave Inesi. He is in his element among the trees, finding friends (creepy crawlies) and imagining himself a brave hero on a swashbuckling conquest. There is part of me that wishes that it could be so. That we could just always be here. Together. Safe. Free. Content. That our precious sons could inherit this portion of land, and continue to thrive on the place we now call home. But even if it is not impossible, should that be God's will for our children, it is unlikely.

I'm sure most parents with small or not so small children have at some point looked around themselves, and experienced doubt or even fear about the future for this next generation. Even for themselves. I have. But then I consciously shrug it off. The Lord who has kept us together and remains the anchor of our family, provides and protects. What we have in Him, does not change.

A few days ago as I was checking the rambling roses that we planted along a section of our fence last summer, a verse in Psalm 16 came into my head: "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, surely I have a delightful inheritance." The KJV simply refers to "the lines" and a "goodly heritage". I imagined that David was probably speaking figuratively, but I cheated a bit and "Googled" it to gain clarity. As always when a verse in the bible becomes clear, it has been "living" in my heart and mind and given me much comfort and even a sense of elation.

The allusion is to the “measuring cords” (lines) by which allotments of land were measured, and they are said to “fall”, possibly because after the measurement the portions were distributed by “lot”.

But our interpretation of inheritance often pertains to physical property, whereas "heritage" speaks more of shared values or traditions in a given culture or family. I would imagine a heritage is an intangible inheritance. Not something someone can take away from you.

Like in Psalm 119:111—”Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.” Testimonies aren’t an inheritance; they’re a heritage. I was not able to put falling lines together with goodly heritages. But boundary lines and inheritances—those fit well.

David - who in this psalm speaks so much about security that he may be writing from exile - views the Lord as his inheritance, even and especially when his own land is out of his grasp. “Lines” refers literally to boundary lines, but the whole verse is a metaphor: God Himself is David’s portion, lot, and heritage. What more beautiful and pleasant property could you get? It’s no wonder that David ends the psalm by saying,

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

David's inheritance came through "lines" of genealogy. From God's chosen people - Israel, Judah, the Jews, a line was drawn from the first man Adam to the man Christ Jesus. David had reason to speak in this language, for he had God as his portion, a worthy portion, a goodly heritage. What could he have better? What could he desire more? That is why David sings in verse 7: "Return to your rest, O my soul, For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you"

As M Basilea Schlink wrote: "Every Jew, by his very existence, points towards God, towards the election and calling of Abraham, towards the election of Israel as a people for God’s own possession, singled out from among all other nations, particularly loved by God, who gave them special graces and promises and who kept them from perishing, throughout their thousands of years of history. Every Jew is a reminder that God is the Holy God, the God of the ten commandments. Every Jew is a reminder that God lives, that He pronounces blessings and curses and fulfils them both."

It is the natural heritage of the Jews. But in Ephesians 3:6 there is this amazing verse: "This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus."

We have recently updated our "Last Will and Testament", to make sure that our children will receive/inherit what is due to them by birth. Jesus wrote a will and testament with His blood, so that I may share in the covenant/promise/inheritance of God's chosen people.

By birth, I have no right to this. But God so loved me and so loved you, that He sacrificed His Son, so that we may share in this "goodly heritage". It goes beyond a country gone crazy, a world at war with itself, a chosen people denying and being denied their God-given right. Beyond riots and protests, Christians being persecuted, the "last days" nearing at an alarming rate.

God's plan is unfolding. And I am in it. Just a "scion", shoot, bud - grafted onto the Tree of Life, by a grace too all-encompassing and complete for me to understand. But still, here I am, a royal heiress, made worthy, together with all Jesus' children, to sing: 

For my Maker is my husband – 
the Lord Almighty is His name –
the Holy One of Israel is my Redeemer;
He is called the God of all the earth.
~ Isaiah 54:5 NIV

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