Psalm 84 begins with “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord God Almighty”. For someone like me who loves beautiful homes and decorating, that phrase conjures up a myriad of images – it inspires dreams. Just saying “dwelling places” resonates deep within me. I can get excited about almost any home, no matter how humble or how palatial, simply because I have never seen a house that I couldn’t imagine beautiful.
When the Psalmist is talking about God’s dwelling place he is not talking about dwelling places in the sense of brick and mortar mansions or cottages, rather he is talking about being with God and looking ahead to eternity which is our permanent home. In verse two he says “My Soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord;” One version says that his soul languishes for the courts of the Lord. In Victorian times, to languish usually meant to be almost consumed by your desire for someone or something. In Illness, to languish puts you near death.
The psalmist so languishes after the Lord and dwelling with him that he is ready to turn his back on any hint of earthly roots. He has realized that he is just a pilgrim traveling through life to get to his real destination. To be on a pilgrimage is more than just traveling. Pilgrimage has a purpose; you are traveling to a holy place. Warren Wiersbe in his BE Worshipful commentary, says that “a pilgrim is heading home.”
Too many times we think the pilgrimage is finding the perfect dwelling place be it actual dwelling, or possibly the right location. We then proceed to put down roots as if we are going to be established forever. Instead, as Christians, we should be holding the things of this world loosely and looking to the final destination as our root source. Corrie ten Boom says, “I’ve learned that we must hold everything loosely, because when I grip it tightly, it hurts when the Father pries my fingers loose and takes it from me.”
Giving up our earthly dreams does indeed hurt sometimes, but the hurt can be for our good if we allow God to teach us the greater truths about what it really means to dwell with him. My “Tennessee Home” as I called it, was a dream I had to give up and I grieved over the loss. For me, it was my dream home and it was the most peaceful place I had ever lived on this earth. I called it my God house. It was our Grace House. I truly do believe it was a gift from God and I believe it was ok to love my home. When the time came to move on I was willing, or so I thought, to give up my house. The delayed reaction, once the dust had settled on our new adventure, was that I went through actual grief at giving up my dream home. God used this grief to teach me lessons and give me perspective.
What I have come to realize is that home is a place in the heart that you take with you wherever you go; home on earth is not a permanent destination, it is just part of the pilgrimage to where we’re going to dwell eternally. If we are willing to give up our dreams and plans, that leaves room for God to plant his desires in our heart.
I want the “cry of my heart” to be as the Psalmist says in verse 10 of this same chapter: “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”
So where are you on this pilgrimage? Are you languishing to dwell with God or are you busy holding on tightly to things that will have to be pried from your grip?
Prayer: ” …O 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, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.” Psalm 84:3b-5 (NIV)
Go in Grace,