If you could have one wish granted by God, what would it be? A gift for someone you love? Something for yourself? Psalm 27 gave us an answer – “One thing I ask of the Lord (is)… to dwell in the house of the Lord… (and) behold the beauty of the Lord…” Simply dwelling in the close presence of God… that is what faith is all about. Heaven and earth may pass away, but the presence of God remains. Material possessions wear out over time and become obsolete. People come and go. Even the ones we love the most are taken from us eventually. But dwelling in the presence of God? That is the one thing that will always be available to us.
A friend of mine likes to describe this as the difference between the “stuff of God’s hands” and the “stuff of God’s heart.” The “stuff of God’s hands” are things all connected with earthly life – outcomes, results and tangible objects. Seeking the “stuff of God’s hands” is to be pray that the CT scan is favorable or that the upcoming interview results in a job offer. The “stuff of God’s heart” is about everything other-worldly. It is about what God thinks, knows, loves and understands. To seek the stuff of God’s heart is to desire to know what God knows, love what God loves and view things from God’s perspective instead of our own.
To pray for the stuff of God’s hands may lead to personal disappointment. It may not. But it may, because we may not be seeking something that is in alignment with God’s heart. But praying for the stuff of God’s heart will never disappoint us. We will always experience a greater connection with God that is not based on results or outcomes. To seek the stuff of God’s heart is to pray, “Lord, help me love and value what you already see is your plan for me, regardless of how this particular situation in front of me turns out.”
Psalm 84 is about seeking the stuff of God’s heart; about seeking closeness with God above all. This is what is meant by phrases like “One day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere” and “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord” than to live anywhere else. And there are great blessings given to us when simply dwelling in God’s presence becomes our great desire.
First, we will see that there is room for all of us in the presence of God. Even the sparrows and the swallows find a space at the altar of the Lord (v. 3). And, as Jesus reminded us, we are valued by God at least as much as the sparrows (Luke 12:7). If God already provides for them, how much more will God provide for us? If God makes room for them in God’s presence, we can trust that there will always be room there for us too. Everywhere we look in our earthly lives, there is some kind of test to pass before we are accepted; some kind of ID or credential needed in order to be included. But not with God. Simply desiring to be included, makes one included.
Secondly, Psalm 84 reminds us that God will not withhold “one good thing” (v. 11) from those who walk uprightly. It is in God’s very nature to want to share the “stuff of God’s heart” with us. If we are not learning more of God’s will or experiencing more of God’s purposes for our world, it is not because God is withholding something from us. It is more likely that we have not truly desired it. Simply desiring God; closeness with God; connection with God; togetherness with God. That is the key to an abundant life of faith in God. Jesus the Christ was sent to us simply to emphasize it and make it more accessible. But long before he appeared, Psalm 84 was given as a reminder of what really matters to us as people of faith.
God of eternal connection, may I seek to dwell and walk more closely with you every day. May my connection with you grow stronger with each passing day. And may I ultimately trust that this is enough; that even if I have nothing else in this world, this is enough. Amen.
- Blessings, Michael