and I will dwell in the house
of the Lord forever.
This time of year conversations swirl, spurred by simple curiosity, “Are you going home for the holidays?”
Home. The word can mean something different for each of us, and many have attempted to give it a solid definition–or at least a direction:
- There’s no place like home.
- Home is where the heart is.
- Home is not a place but people…or a feeling.
- A house is made of bricks and beams. A home is made of hopes and dreams.
As I read each of these adages, I detect a note of longing. Maybe because I hear Dorothy’s desperate wish. But also because I know that no matter our unique past experiences of ‘home’ or our current state of home-ness, we all have an unquenchable craving for a place of true belonging.
Of being loved for who we are.
Of feeling safe and secure.
Of being part of something bigger than ourselves.
Our hearts yearn for such a home because our inmost self feels the lack of it in this life. The more we endure the brokenness of the world where things like death, disease, and divorce keep us from finding true belonging, the more we awaken to the truth that we were created for more.
David, in Psalm 23, helps us understand that this ache for home is the God-given desire to dwell with our Good Shepherd.
Contentment and Assurance
After the summer adventures of navigating dark valleys and lush mesas, sheep love coming home as autumn closes out (Keller, 166). The warmth of home welcomes. Its shelter assures. The very act of coming home comforts.
David, writing as the sheep, knows the contentment of being at home with the Shepherd (p.165). He delights in the truth that God is near–and always will be.
I love a good Hallmark Christmas movie, and the underlying theme of so many is ‘coming home’–back to the place of birth, the house full of memories, the town of their growing up. Some protagonists resist the pull of the return trip. Others skulk home, hearts heavy with failure. While a few eagerly brave the snow-packed roads to get back to their roots. But, in the end, they all discover the deeper truth that home is presence.
Like David, when these Hallmark heroines embrace all that home has been, has become, and will be, contentment settles in. The heaviness lifts. Hope replaces disappointment. Joy carries them into a new future–because of the love around them.
Lest you be tempted to wave off such simplistic plot structures, just know there’s a reason over 85 million people tune in for the two months of Christmas feature films on this one channel. Because they reflect what all our hearts hunger for.
Our Forever Home
Despite the disappointment that comes from living in fractured families and with broken bonds, we have reason to rejoice. We have much to hope for–not only because our Good Shepherd is with us now but also because He has gone before us to prepare a place for us, an eternal home. This mansion with many rooms is the very place our hearts have yearned for all our days (John 14:2-3).
Friends, the home of our pining has been promised, and it exists. Our forever home looks like:
- The place of perfect protection and provision.
- The abode of abiding love.
- The refuge of restful peace.
- The shelter of safety and security.
- The new heaven and earth where no sickness or sadness, no strain or sting exist (Revelation 21:1-4).
- The New Jerusalem where the Light of World fills the earth everyday, all day, for eternity (Revelation 21:22-24). Because He is right there with us.
For all our wanderings in this world as sojourners, we will finally put down roots in our eternal residence. And it will be better than anything we could have ever imagined–because, for the first time since the Garden of Eden, our Father will bodily dwell among us. Just as He intended.
Not only do we benefit from God’s goodness and mercy all the days we live on the earth, but we possess the gift of anticipating His glorified presence with us in eternity.
All the Wonder
So, as we wrap up another series together, I invite you to cease your wandering. Instead, look up! Be wowed by the wonder of God’s handiwork all around you. Sense His nearness. And know that His presence guarantees everything you’ll ever need. The Lord is your Shepherd. You lack nothing (Psalm 23:1).
In Him you have found a home. And, in you God has made His home–right here, right now. This dwelling together in our imperfect world serves as a source of strength and inspiration, opening our hearts to worship the One who has claimed us as His own.
Until you move into your room in that big, heavenly house, be fueled by the hope of the great and perfect joy that is to come. I pray that each of us can be sustained by the sheer anticipation of such glory! In the meantime, remember the Good Shepherd dwells within you. His Spirit waits for the turn of your ear, the opening of your eye to take in the wonder of the goodness of God. Inside you. And all around you.
Father God, we are so humbled by this gift of your perpetual presence. Thank You for helping us understand that this longing in our hearts is for more of You, for time in your holy presence. Father, we desire to dwell with You. Lord Jesus, gratitude fills us as we rest in these truths of hope and joy–You have made a way for us to abide in You, now and forever. We thank You for the gift of your presence within us–the Spirit’s indwelling. Holy Spirit, our Helper, we thank You for all the ways You nudge and poke and whisper to our hearts the ways of Christ. Thank You for showing us the path of faith, taking us by the hand and leading us by your counsel. And for being our constant reminder that God is with us. Always. Now and for all eternity. May the hope of God continue to fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in Him, so that we may overflow with hope by the power You offer us. We’re looking up! We marvel at all the ways You work, so we move into this holiday season with renewed hope–because You are our home. In Jesus’ name, amen.
(Inspired by Psalm 139:7, John 15:4-8, John 14:2-3, John 16:7, Psalm 72:23-24, Romans 15:13)
- It’s always bittersweet to end a series. Sad to let it go, but grateful for the work it’s done in me. Reluctant to move on, yet excited about our upcoming Advent series: “God With Us.” I hope you’ll join me for this most special season as we anticipate Christ’s coming and the dawning of a new year.
- Rhythms: We’re entering into the busiest time of the year. So, we’ll be challenged to keep the same rhythms we’ve developed this fall. In response, we could shift our rhythms a bit. Maybe let go of the deeper studies and focus on one passage for the rest of the year. Psalm 73:23-26 has been a sustaining Word for me in the last two years, so I offer it as one you could abide in as you go about all the work of planning and preparation, of purchases and product development ;).
- We add Psalm 23:6b to our memorization this week, finishing out Psalm 23. It’s forever locked in our minds and hearts–always at the ready when we’re tempted to disbelieve truths about our Good Shepherd or to doubt His goodness and mercy. We’ve dwelled upon His Word. Now it dwells in us.
- Resources: I love sharing with you the books, podcasts, articles, and anything else that has inspired, encouraged, or taught me. These are humble offerings with no expectations.
- If you need a prayer rhythm for the holidays, I love recommending the Lectio 365 app. Prayer giants like Pete Greig lead us in daily prayers that are soaked in the Word, helping us align with God and look beyond ourselves. So. Good.
- I must admit I’ve not been listening to our Dwell playlist this week as I’ve been indulging in the upcoming Advent playlist. But. I’ll share that next week!
- Phillip Keller’s book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.* What a gift. You know, I received this book as a gift two Christmases ago…thanks, Aunt Susan!
- We’re a flock. We’re a fellowship of believers. We’re a community. Know that you are not alone. You’ll walk these paths with Christ at your side and your sisters hemmed around you.
- As you feel led, share in the comment section. Let us know how God is leading you. And how we can be praying for you. Ask questions. And share your thoughts.
- I hope you’ll invite someone to join our flock. All sheep need the Good Shepherd.