A longing to dwell

I heard a loud voice from the throne saying
“Look at the dwelling place of God.”
He will dwell with them
They will be His people,
And He will be their God.
~ Ghost Ship, The Revelation of Jesus Christ

After an impromptu 781 mile car trip we were met with excited greetings, an open door, and welcoming home. Suddenly, relief, rest, safety attained. Weary from uninterrupted drive, we accepted the invitation in. My parents’ Texas home is once again a shelter for we weary travelers.

The need to stretch and move is quenched by a walk with my mom on the the streets my mother and father did as children. Small town joys bring physical respite that accompanies my breathe-in-and-out moments. It is a sense of home though it is not my own. Childhood memories of visits here are warm and happy. I recall my grandparents’ picture window that would annually become my grandmom’s canvas for all the town to see—paintings on glass that would frequently grace newspaper pages.

My mom reminisces. I find comfort as I stretch. She shows me house after house designed by my great grandfather, my grandfather. Their designs live on as the families that choose to dwell in them do. They’ve made them a permanent residence. We return to my Mom and Dad’s own home—it too one of my great grandfather’s designs. It is sound and beautiful architecture, divine in detail and finish. Dwelling here feels safe, comfortable. It is a delight. My parents dwell here and their personal touch has only enhanced the dwelling. The detail of them multiplies the beauty, the design of the original architect.

My mind runs to verses it has for many years, David’s request in Psalm 27:4:

One thing I have asked of the LORD
That I will seek after;
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple

In my younger years I foolishly associated a genie-in-a-bottle mentality with this scripture. David’s making one request of God and it was to say he wants to live in God’s house? If he were making one request of God, wouldn’t it be something bigger? Better?

I believe, like many things, my understanding could only become possible with age and experience. The depths of the request could only be grasped as I left my parent’s home to establish one of my own. There are many securities, delights only discovered and enjoyed in your home.

I think about all the homes I’ve dwelled in—apartments, townhomes, the first home of my husband and I. I go back further to growing up with my younger brothers in house after house, city after city, including one house in the fourth grade in this particular small town. The rhythm of moving and changing homes can even be a comfort, one I have not yet shaken. There were so many lovely homes and yet it is not the house that offers peace.

Had my parents not been the ones who’d opened this door after this recent journey, someone else inevitably would have and I would have been distraught, would never have entered this home. I realize it’s in the dwelling, residing in the presence of my family. As a child, the comfort, safety and rest lay with my parents. As an adult the same comfort and safety and rest is found with my husband and my own children, regardless of the physical residence.

As delightful and fulfilling as my family is, as magnificent and lovely as all of the homes may be, there is nowhere, no one perfect. All are fallen, in need. We dwell still in a sinful and fallen world full of division and strife.

As a I return to Psalm 27, I think of David on the run, in need of safety and relief. The enemy is after him. The only real place of safety for David, for God’s people is in God’s presence. Yet he’d known, learned enough, that this wasn’t only momentary relief he was seeking. He was yearning for ultimate comfort, ultimate rescue—the rescue we all yearn for. Dwelling involves finding permanent residence. David knew there was no permanent peace, no permanent comfort outside the presence of the LORD.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust,’” writes David in Psalm 91.

“Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place–
the Most High, who is my refuge–
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.”

David’s search, our search for this reminds me of the garden years. The days after creation, we were dwelling in a place like no other. Trust and refuge were abundant in the presence, the comfort of our Creator God. Yet we chose self over unhindered communion. Broken communion relegated us to hiding in the trees. We were covered, though removed and unable to dwell in that home. Ever since that deep ache has called us to come home, to dwell in the presence of our King.

Broken communion cried out for restoration. It required Another leave the comfort of home to sacrifice. He could no longer dwell with the Father. He voluntarily left home and that dwelling so He could eventually open the door to it.

As we look around and see a world ravaged with war, racial unrest, disease, earthquakes, floods, the ache is all the more evident. We yearn to dwell where no evil will befall, under the shadow of the Almighty.

I realize David could not have asked for anything bigger, anything better, for there is not.

Our deepest desire is to reside, to dwell and to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and inquire in his temple.

We can neither gaze nor inquire apart from the intervention of a King. Though we like to think we could open the door, we would no more attempt it than I would try entering one of my “grandfather’s homes” without being welcomed by the one who dwells there. Someone must open the door on our behalf. Someone must make a way and welcome us in.

Thankfully this Architect has gone ahead. He designed the home, prepared the place for us, and welcomes us in.

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