HIGHWAYS TO ZION IN OUR HEARTS
Psalm 84 also shows us the way to Zion. We go to Zion, firstly, by trusting in God. “Blessed is the man that trusteth in thee” (v. 12). Secondly, the highways of Zion must be in our hearts: “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the highways to Zion” (v. 5). This is indeed interesting. Whenever we take a way to reach a certain goal, the way is always outside of us. But the highways to Zion are within us.
Do you take the way of the church externally or internally? Is the way of the church within you or without? If it is outside of you, it will not last long. The highway to Zion must be within us. The only way to walk in the church life is not outwardly, but inwardly. It is not an external matter, but an internal one.
Sometimes people speak of the ground of the church and the practice of the church as merely external matters. I do not agree. They may, in a sense, be external things, but all these external things must be within us. If they are merely external to you, sooner or later you will drift away. You may be in the way today, but tomorrow you will go astray. Praise the Lord, the highways to Zion are in our hearts. We take the Lord’s way, we go the church way, not from without, but from within. It is absolutely not something external, but something which is very subjective to us.
Sometimes we have the concept that the matter of the church ground and the church practice are not matters of life. Sometimes we hear others say, “Let’s talk about life; don’t talk about the church ground.” In earlier days I had the same concept, but I’ve gradually been delivered from this kind of deceit. Never say that the church ground has nothing to do with life. It is absolutely a matter of life. I am fully assured that if any one of you is wrong in life, you will be distracted from the way of the church. In other words, when you are out of the church way, you are erring, at least to some extent, in the way of spiritual life. The matter of the church ground and the way of the church practice has very much to do with the inner life. When we are deeply in the inner life, we will certainly be in the way of the church; the highways to Zion will be within us.
If we adopt the church life in a cheap way, it means that the life within us is extremely poor. But I do believe that many of us have taken the way of the church at a certain cost. It did not cost me so much to take the Lord Jesus as my Savior as it did to take the church way. To receive the Lord Jesus as my Savior cost me almost nothing, but I can testify that it was very costly for me to take the church way. Do not imagine that the highway to Zion is external, superficial, and cheap. It is quite the opposite. It is at a price that we take the church way and forever remain on the highway to Zion.
THE VALLEY OF WEEPING—A PLACE OF SPRINGS
Such a person passes through the valley of weeping and makes it a place of springs. It does not say that God makes it a place of springs, but that we make it such. We are always inclined to think that everything depends on God. But it is not God’s responsibility to make the valley of weeping a place of springs. Whether the valley of weeping is a place of blessing or not depends wholly on us, not on God. If you take the church way, at a certain point you will encounter many trials and troubles. If you turn away, you will find yourself in a real valley of weeping. But if you are faithful at any cost, if you say, “Lord, even at the cost of my life, I will still go on,” you will make the valley of weeping a place of springs.
You may consider that a certain brother is a real help to you; you enjoy fellowship with him so much. But I am afraid that one day this very brother will be a real problem and trial to you. You may have a little foretaste of it now, but the full taste will come. More than two-thirds of my human life has been in the church life. Under the covering of the Lord’s precious blood I can tell you that my sorest trials have been from dear brothers, dear sisters, dear co-workers. Some of the closest ones have become the thorns. You may say that one brother is a trial to you, but one day you will be a thorn to him. If in the day of trial, you turn back, you will make the valley a true valley of weeping. I have seen many in the past who have done this. Once they have turned away from the church, they have turned into the valley of weeping. But I must also confess that I have seen many who, in spite of all the trials, have still gone on in the church. I can testify that their weeping was transformed into blessing. The tears were transformed into springs, into rain which covered the valley with blessings.
Do not suppose that I am passing on some kind of teaching. My burden in sharing all the verses of these Psalms is to point out the attitude you must take to go on in the church life. I have no desire to impart some form of knowledge about the church. The highway to Zion passes through the valley. This valley may eventually be a valley of weeping, or a place of springs, a place of blessing. It depends upon your attitude. When the church is good and everything is fine, we may praise the Lord. In these years here in Los Angeles, the church life has indeed been wonderful. But it is altogether possible that it might not always be so good. Sometimes the brothers may not be so lovable, to put it mildly. In fact, they may seem unbearable as far as you are concerned. Sometimes the co-workers may not be so pleasant to you. Sometimes the meetings may not be so living. Then what will you do? Will you quit, will you turn away? Will you say, “What is the difference between the local church and the denominations?” In fact, sometimes the local church may not seem as good as the denominations. Will you go back? Be careful; it all depends upon you. It is not God’s responsibility. It is yours. It is not God who makes the valley of weeping a place of blessing; it is you.
(Christ and the Church Revealed and Typified in the Psalms, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)