I was taking a short hike a few weeks ago, not along the river or over the dirt path of a metro park, but up the stairs and down the halls of Xenia Christian Schools. I have to admit that the Appalachian Trail was on my mind (a common occurrence nowadays) but I did not expect to see a hiker’s verse jump out at me from the hallway. The school has several murals painted throughout the facility and this incredible message made my day:
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord. (Psalm 89:15)
As I read the verse I could not help but see a marvelous causal link between the two ideas expressed by the Psalmist. The obvious cause and effect is the blessing that comes from learning to acclaim God. The Hebrew word translated “acclaim” is a power word with many meanings. It can mean alarm, signal, and shout. It is used of the sound of a tempest, the blast of war and the shout of joy. Experiencing the blessing of God can be found as we sound the alarm in the midst of wrong, sin, injustice, and abuse. Blessing can be found as we blast the horn of war taking our moral stand on God’s side (even when it is politically correct or popular). And the meaning I like best in this context is the shout of joy that expresses itself in the life of one who knows and loves God.
The other causal link in this passage that might not be quite as obvious involves the setting in which we learn how to acclaim God. It is as we walk in the light of His presence that the learning takes place. It is the hike (spiritual and, for me, physical) that produces the shouts of joy…. the declaration of war against evil…. the acknowledgment of the power and glory of God Himself. Walking… walking in the light… walking in the light of His presence. Hiking is such a good thing to do, but hiking in the light is even better. I have read of many who hike at night and use headlamps to navigate but how much easier and fulfilling is the hike when you are able to see the landscape, the pitfalls, and the wildlife in the light of the day. And the passage talks about the “light of His presence” – it literally means “the light of His face.” Hiking with God in a close and personal way builds a personal relationship that leads to proclaiming the wonders and grace of God.