Our trip to Washington DC was the biggest trip my family ever took. In years past, we spent time either camping in the state, or heading to the beach. Neither one of those activities required much planning.
Washington DC was another story. There is so much to do in Washington, that we took time looking through websites, travel guides, and getting advice from people who had made similar trips. We wanted this trip to be one we would remember, so we planned. We studied Washington DC so we could find the best places to visit. Knowing everything we could about Washington DC would help us have a great trip.
Learning and Knowing
Do you have a dream destination? Paris? London? Bahamas? We all want to visit these “Dream Destinations”. Such trips take planning. You don’t want to decide one day to go to Paris, jump on an airplane, and head there. There may be some who have the resources to make such a trip, but for most of us, we must plan. What’s the best time to visit? What are some “must see” areas? What areas should be avoided? These are questions we try to answer.
There are many resources available to plan trips. Websites, books, travelogues, travel agents, and advice from others help. We may plan so much that we end up knowing just about everything there is to know about our destination. We’ve study, we’ve read, we’ve talked to others, and we have exhausted all the available resources.
Knowing in a Different Way
So why go? If we know everything about the destination, why even take the trip?
Those are silly questions. We take the trip because we know there is a big difference between knowing about a place and actually visiting that place. Academic or mental knowledge gives us facts about a place or topic, but experiential knowledge gives us a deeper understanding. While both types of knowledge or needed, experiential knowledge usually has deeper influence.
The City of God
For the psalmist, the greatest destination was Jerusalem. Jerusalem reflected God’s glory and honor. He invites us to reflect on the wonders of Zion and experience God’s glory.
Experiencing a place brings deeper knowledge, and the psalmist believed experiencing Jerusalem brings a deeper knowledge of God. Even kings of other nations, who arrogantly believe they can overcome Zion, are astounded once they see the city up close. They lose heart, panic, and flee in fear. Their arrogance is shattered.
For those who love God, the experience of Jerusalem was different. As they visit the city, looking at the towers, walls, and all of Jerusalem’s defenses, they experience God’s love and protection.
As they have heard, they have seen (verse 8). The psalmist says they have seen the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem. In the temple, where they encountered God’s presence, they ponder God’s steadfast love. His love, that will never let them go.
Experiencing the Mighty Love of God
The psalmist reminds them, this is God. God’s love never lets them, or us, go. Just as the city is protected by its towers and walls, God’s love protects us through all of our trials, obstacles, disappointments, and discouragements. We can face whatever unfolds before us.
He leaves us with the task of telling the next generation, “This is God”. Don’t just learn about him. Don’t just hear about him. While you can ponder his love in the temple, but don’t stop there! When you experience him, first hand, you discover the depth of his boundless love. When you do, you rest secure.
I invite you to learn about all you can about our amazing God and his mighty love. Yet, experiencing him first hand will transform your life. May you deeply know God’s amazing love.