Our Dwelling Place

Originally published July 1st, 2010 - Southern Spirit

Moving around has been the lot of Salvation Army officers since the very first days of the movement.  While it can be exciting, it can also be distressing and wearisome. We went through a period of six years when we celebrated Christmas in a different house each year. There was very little excitement and a whole lot of weariness after the sixth year.  No one could have felt more tired from moving around than Moses. He spent the first 40 years of his life planted in the palace of Pharaoh. Then he was tucked away for another 40 years amid the sheep of Jethro. After 80 years where he moved only once, he then was constantly on the move for the last 40 years of his life. Maybe it was just after another wearisome move that he wrote Psalm 90, with its lines that resonate about always being at home with God.  Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God (Psalm 90:1-2).  There is a simple eloquent beauty in that prayer to God. You have been our dwelling place. It’s not this tent or that mansion. It’s not in this zip code or even this country. No place is truly home other than this one near to the heart of God.

Natural disasters testify to the truth that no dwelling place is completely safe. And even the great castles of the world that fended off fearful enemy attacks will crumble as microscopic creatures and water vapors patiently work. No place on Earth is completely safe from the laws of nature or the destructive hand of man. Except, that is, if we have the Almighty God as our dwelling place. Here no hurricane wind or earthquake shudder or raging fire can reach the child of God. Here there are no home invaders or declarations of eminent domain or earth-moving machines that can plow under the place of protection.  Safe at home.

Beyond that, with God we are always at home.  Home is not a place, but a relationship. We have had the privilege to live and work in several countries.  Always we are betrayed as to our citizenship by our skin color, our accent, our mannerisms. Always, we are someone from somewhere else and, because living in other cultures changes what a person is, we really do not feel we are much at home even when we go back to our own country. We ask no pity.  We have found that we are always, always at home with our Heavenly Father. There is no fireplace that provides a warmer glow; there is no landscaping that provides a greater calm; there is no relationship that can match the one that exists between the loving Father and one of his children.

In Psalm 90 Moses speaks of God’s eternal nature compared to our transient and brief life. Trying to reconcile God’s eternity and our life’s brevity cannot be reconciled outside of God being our dwelling place. So, Moses concludes by praying that we would find the peace that this is meant to bring. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days (Psalm 90:14).  We built our family by adopting four children. One was an infant, one 2 ½, one 4 and one almost 9 when they came into our home. How did we know when they felt that our home was their home as well?  It was when we heard them singing, because a person never sings when he is not safe.

And we sing for joy and are glad all our days, in this, our God, our dwelling place.