Hey y’all! I’m Keegan. I’m a lover of Jesus and also a bi man (the few, the proud, the bisexuals!!). I like to read and write poetry, go on long runs, and spend time sharing a meal with the people I love most in this world. As YOB has blessed me, I pray this blog blesses you in some way, too.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young —
a place near your altar,
LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

Psalm 84:3-7 (NIV)

If you’re at all familiar with YOB, you’re probably aware that little sparrows have infiltrated nearly every corner of our community. They’re in the banner of our website, the centerpiece of our logo, and even the tagline of our podcast: Even the sparrow finds a home, which comes from Psalm 84.

But did you know that sparrows are really, really small? Or were you like me, having lived under a rock your entire life, thinking sparrows were like ravens or crows or something?

No? Just me?

Well, anyway, sparrows are very fragile, little things: tiny wings, tiny eyes, tiny heartbeats.

Sometimes with everything happening in the world and in our lives — the pain, the shame, the uncertainty — we are left feeling small, like tiny, fragile things.

But as Psalm 84 continues, where has the sparrow found its home? Near God! Even though the sparrow is tiny, it is not forgotten by God — quite the contrary, actually.

The sparrow is seen. The sparrow is brought in. The sparrow is safe.

All well and good for the sparrow! you might be thinking. But what about me? What about my friends and family? What about SSA and LGBT+ Christians?

AH! Great questions, I’m glad you asked. Let us turn our attention to the pilgrim.

After all this sparrow-talk, the psalmist then says: “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.”

Total shot in the dark here, but I don’t think the psalmist is referring to literal pilgrims with the buckle hats, cornucopias, or any other sort of wacky depiction our modern minds might conjure.

I think the psalmist is talking about regular people like you and me; small things, like you and me. People living their normal lives (okay, fine, maybe the Side B life isn’t that normal). People looking beyond what’s perceptible on this planet with our five senses — looking toward a better place, even a Better Person.

But what is it that happens to those who’ve set their hearts on this pilgrimage? To those who attempt to see beyond the pain, the shame, and the uncertainty?

Well, the psalmist says they pass through a place called the “Valley of Baka” and are blessed by doing so. “Baka” means “mourning,” and I get the sense that a lot of life (particularly a Side B life) is like passing through the Valley of Baka.

But what strikes me every time I read this psalm is that we are merely pilgrims in this life, passersby to a better place.

Yes, there will be plenty of mourning on this journey.

But mourning is not the end of our story.

The psalmist comforts us by saying that these pilgrims are blessed on this valleyed journey. Somehow, they even “make it a place of springs.” Surely, this is by God’s grace.

What’s more, in God’s timing He will also “cover it with pools.” On a journey filled with pain, shame, and uncertainty, there is an abundance of joy, freedom, and life.

In a sin-wrought world, there is also transformation.

And in this transformation, these pilgrims will only “go from strength to strength” until they appear before God face to face in heaven. With His support and care for such transient beings as pilgrims, how could it be any other way?

So, be encouraged. As you set your heart on pilgrimage and put your hope on that Better Someone (hint: it’s Jesus), you will see His goodness in the Valley of Baka, over and over.

Like the little sparrow. Seen. Brought in. Safe. Forever.

When have you felt as small as a sparrow? Where have you seen God’s provision for you as a pilgrim on this journey?

About the Author

  • Beautiful words, Keegan. I frequently feel small and overlooked in my struggles by the church, but it’s a great reminder that my focus should stay on God, Who doesn’t overlook me and my struggles. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

  • This blog feels like the long-awaited ORIGIN STORY for our podcast and many of our community’s inside jokes. Love all of this, Keegan. I also enjoy visualizing a sparrow the size of a raven.

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