It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)
Thus, with these enduring words, Dickens begins his masterful work.
Not a light, airy, entertaining type of novel, but a dark, revealing, confronting commentary on life and society.
Dickens’ coupled themes are sandwiched between these memorable opening lines and his poignant closing remarks.
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.
As a child of God, I find myself echoing the words of Dickens as I reflect on living in one world while belonging to another. It is the best of times, it is the worst of times…
A great war rages over the landscape of my life, a revolution of sorts, a battle to hold supremacy.
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! – Psalm 34:8 (ESV)
I have tasted the goodness of my God, and like a once tasted delicacy or the choicest wine, it leaves a memory that makes for longing.
So the battle rages on unabated. I live in one city, but my heart yearns for another, and in this yearning my struggle is to be marked with the colours of my homeland, to identify with the peoples of the kingdom to which I journey.
1 Peter 2:1-5, 9-11
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
So now, in the midst of bloody battle, my song finds a home with the voices of the pilgrims as they lift their eyes to the Holy mountain.
As we ascend together to that Holy place we sing.
Psalm 130 (ESV)
My Soul Waits for the LORD
A Song of Ascents
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
To the praise of His glory!