My daughter died in 78, my first wife in 96, my mother in 03. Close friends from boyhood and youth are scattered and now strangers as I am reminded by recent high school and college reunions. Time, location, and responsibility keep current dear friends and family to far too infrequent visits. I have lived in numerous locations whose “homes are only a distant memory. If your “dwelling place, your home, your identity, is expressed by a physical location, a person or persons, a job, who are you when they are gone? Christina Rossetti’s poem At Home captures the emotions and thoughts of just such a plight; lost-ness and loneliness flooding the senses. Perhaps she writes with Psalm 90 in mind prompting her own thoughts of life and meaning. This is a human condition, never resolved by adding more of the same: homes, jobs, avocations, family, people, memories, in order to find your dwelling place, the place where you are intimately and accurately known and loved; true home.
This is preeminent in Moses’ thinking when he devises and prays the prayer which is the 90th Psalm. Moses did not find his dwelling place, his identity, in the vagaries of a life stretched over 120 incredible years of everything imaginable. Who has seen a life like his? We read of an identity linked to being a prince of Egypt, a life miraculously preserved, plucked from the bulrushes; a fugitive and alien, a husband, father and shepherd in the deserts of Midian; a savior, leader, and prophet to a nation wandering 40 years in the wilderness of Sinai. Moses considers it all mere dust; a span of time saturated with trouble and sorrow; and, in the end, finished with a moan (read Psalm 90); all except for this unshakeable truth: God was, at every step, his touchstone to reality, purpose, and meaning. Apart from God it made no sense. Moses found in Him his path to finding satisfaction; He was the measuring stick and preserver of the value of his work; He was the light to see in the dark what it all meant. In God he found himself; he found his dwelling place. This is the underlying hunger in us all, whether we acknowledge it or not.
How do you feed such hunger? Where will you find Him in your life? The promise of God in James is simply this: “Come near to God and He will come near to you. He will not be your touchstone to reality when kept at a distance. God reveals Himself in the personal closeness you choose to build with Him. “Abide in me, is the way Jesus said it in John 15. Abiding is not happenstance, here and there, it is a continual pursuit of the God who is there, and is not silent, as Francis Schaeffer entitled his book. It is one thing to talk about it, to say I “know it, and quite another to pursue it with all that is in you, as you pursue the physical necessities of life. One doesn’t replace the other in this life, but if you do not feed the spiritual, the physical pursuit of food, water, air, and whatever else you consider a “necessity of life, will result in mere dust, trouble and sorrow, and a finish with a moan; not a shout of victory.
When I consider the fleetingness of my life, the people who have come into it and gone, the desire to measure its worth, there is only one Touchstone that has been there at every turn, one Guide who has placed me in humanly inexplicable paths with blessing, only One who knows who I truly am, and in whom I find my identity: the Living God, who calls me by name. So we say with Moses and James, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. . . .I will come near to you so that you will come near to me!
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