I did a little cycling this afternoon, and my path took me down the hiking/biking trail that runs along the Ararat River as it winds its way through my hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. It was a picture perfect afternoon, with the clear water of the river framed by blue skies, distant mountains, and the fading artistry of autumn leaves. As I rode, I was reminded of these verses from Psalm 46:
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
Years ago, the professor in one of my Old Testament classes suggested that these words – rather than being an inspirational description of the Holy City – were actually an expression of faith and hope. Because there was no river in Jerusalem. Just the trust (as the Psalm goes on to say) that
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Of course, I’ve not had the chance to visit Jerusalem. So I can’t testify one way or the other to its rivers and streams (or the absence thereof). But for this afternoon at least, my heart could certainly resonate with the idea of a river “whose streams make glad.” And the gladness came, I think, not from the beauty of the river (although the Ararat certainly was beautiful today)…nor from the utility of the river (although I’m sure that Ararat serves some useful function as it flows through Mount Airy)…but from the simple “is-ness” of it—from the fact that “there is a river” that flows through my hometown, just like there is a God, who allows his good and beautiful and gracious Spirit to flow through me.
So thank you, Father, for time to ride…time to notice…and time to give praise to You, who are my all.