That I may Dwell
By Becky Thada
I never thought I’d enjoy being squished between two people on a crowded bus. But since coming to Bolivia, I have found an odd joy in this frequent experience. Being that I’m always interested in the “why” of things, I stopped to think. I’m North American … North Americans like their personal space. What’s wrong with me? Then I realized it was the touch that made me think I was receiving affection from those around me. Of course, they don’t know me, nor care to know me, but I could almost convince myself that they were sitting close to me because they were my friends — because they liked me! Being in a new place, where all relationships sort of start from scratch, it made sense that I was craving affection. Unfortunately, I was satisfied with an easy replacement for true relationship.
Another indicator of this desire was a series of “wants” that kept calling to me. I want a puppy, I want to have a baby, we need a table, we need some stuff on the walls. I found myself struggling with all these “wants.” I was craving something cuddly, I wanted our house to be more homey. All of these desires weren’t necessarily bad, but they were expressions of something a bit deeper. The real issue wasn’t a puppy or a table. Perhaps much of it relates to culture shock and the loneliness and confusion that can come with navigating a new and sometimes dark place. But even deeper, I think it’s an expression of the desire for Intimacy.
It’s interesting how sometimes the absence of something defines more clearly what that “something” really is. Mentioning the word Intimacy seems to strike a cord within me. Perhaps it’s old wounds; or more likely, it’s because it resonates with the deep desire that’s in all of us for Intimacy with God. I don’t just crave affection from people, I crave times of intimate prayer with God. When my supportive and beloved relationships have been stripped away, I have to admit this absence reveals to me more clearly the absence in my life of Intimacy with God. I don’t just desire Intimacy with God, I need it.
Needing Intimacy is a start. It motivates me. But I struggle with how to truly be intimate with God. Ps. 27:4 says, “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all of the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple,” (NIV). I notice that David says “I seek,” implying to me an active process, and the word “dwell” makes me think of living well. How many times do I truly “dwell” in God’s house? Even if I know the invitation is open to me, I often need help being drawn into the presence of God. And dwelling in God’s house means more than visiting. Sometimes I think that if I visit God in the morning, then I have done my right duty. But while my efforts are fine, but an idea of visiting is not dwelling.
Perhaps verse 14 of the same psalm gives us a little hint: “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (NKJV). As I learn to wait on the Lord, throughout the day, and dwell in his presence without just visiting, I hope for a growing Intimacy with God. So that even when my friendships and comforts are stripped away, I have a peace and joy that only comes from this deep sense of intimacy and love. May we continue to learn to dwell in God’s house, all of the days of our lives.