VOA Special English Word Book
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Guarding Sing Sing « Ted Conover
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Item specifics Condition: Good : A book that has been read but is in good condition. Very minimal damage to the cover including scuff marks, but no holes or tears. The dust jacket for hard covers may not be included. Binding has minimal wear. The majority of pages are undamaged with minimal creasing or tearing, minimal pencil underlining of text, no highlighting of text, no writing in margins.
No missing pages. See all condition definitions - opens in a new window or tab. About this product. ThriftBooks Store thrift. Search within store. All of that is very important. But I want to focus on one thing today. And that is this part of the Psalm which relates to the parable where it says, "How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?
The history behind The Waters of Babylon Psalm is that it was written after the Jews had been sent off to Babylon in slavery to a foreign king in a foreign land. It was because of their sins that they were sent away. God had warned them many times, and they had not heeded His warning, and so they were broken up as a people and sent away to Babylon. And they penned and sang this very plaintive, very compunctionate song. When it comes to the point where it says, "How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land," I always think how that applies to me.
And I think you should think how it applies to you.
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For God made us for happiness. He made us for holiness. He made us for purity. He made us to be united to Him. That is our purpose. Anything that does not fulfill that purpose does not make us happy. And when I hear this part of the Psalm, the whole Psalm really, but this part especially, I think this is why I get out of sorts. This is why. What is this strange land? It's not Babylon. It is our heart. Then our land is strange. And in a strange land you cannot sing the Lord's song. All of us, to a greater or lesser degree, live in the strange land.
This is why you're unhappy. You might think it's because of your environment, because of your job, because of a bad relationship, because of poverty, because of sickness. No, that's not why. The reason is because of the strange land in which your soul resides. Great Lent is the time especially during the year when we are to struggle to learn about this strange land and turn away from it just as the Prodigal Son does. We read them just before Great Lent. We have two more Sundays, and then Great Lent begins, and then we repeat them over and over again, especially in the canons and in other hymnology of the Lenten Triodion, all the way up to Pascha, and that is because Great Lent is a time for you to learn something about yourself and to seek after God, to come to yourself.
That is why I believe that this Psalm begins this Sunday, because it is all about coming to ourselves. It's all about recognizing that the reason for our disquiet in our soul is that we are in a strange land.
The strange land is our sins, our passions. That's what troubles you. And when we understand that, then we can be like the son and we can come to ourselves. Even though there are beautiful words that say God loves us and that Christ is resurrected from the dead and that He prepares a place for us and that He calls us friends, many beautiful things like that; none of those will affect us in a positive way unless we come to ourselves and we recognize that there is something wrong with us and that God came to fix it.
Then all those beautiful promises, have deep meaning and are actualized and given power and life in our soul. But if a man is deaf, he doesn't hear these words. If a man is blind, he doesn't see. So these words "he came to himself," are beautiful words, and this is what I think you should pursue.
This is what I pursue. I don't do a good job of it, but I do pursue it, every day to come to myself. What does the Scripture mean by this? It means that you recognize death and life and that many things that you do are death. You are like that son who is in the foreign land feeding swine, attached to a citizen of the country, that is, enslaved to the devil, doing unclean things, things that do not lead to life and that you have left your father.
"Stranger in the Strange Land"
Now, these are relative things. Well, if you say that, I will be frank with you, you're a fool. Everybody leaves God every day except the greatest and the holiest of people. So if you think, I haven't done anything that bad, then you truly don't understand what's wrong with your soul. So Great Lent is a very good time for you then because you have to recognize that you've gone to the far country many times. We do it every day; let's be honest. When we judge others, when we are lazy, when we indulge our passions, we have gone to the far country. And there is a famine.
The famine is that the Holy Spirit is not fully abiding in us. And we should feel that deeply; this Psalm speaks about it.