Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The courts of the Lord

Photo courtesy of ButterflySha
How lovely are Your dwelling places, O Lord of hosts.

We stayed at a cottage last week near Wakefield.  It was a dissertation writing retreat for Benny.  His writing momentum was awesome.  He typed for hours.  Mission accomplished.

Fortunately, my other expectations for the week were secondary - the relaxation, fun, rest.  Those expectations weren't met.   

We arrived on the Monday night, the car weighed heavy with food, toys, Frisbee, Ben's books.  We pulled into the driveway and before us was a rundown, chipped, raggedy little cabin.  Inside, as we unpacked, I opened a cupboard and spotted an ant scampering across the shelf.  The first of many.  We turned on the water and it smelled like eggs.

By Friday we were admitting out loud that it "wasn't very luxurious."  We cut the trip a day short.  At home, everything seemed brighter and cozier, beautiful and glistening. 

I read Psalm 84 the morning we were going home.  It reminded me - our personal comfort isn't an indication of God's presence.  In God's will, we'll go many places, many uncomfortable places.  

Todd P. preached a couple Sundays ago about "tent living".  Is there anything you have too tight a grip on in your life?  We don't want to miss out because of getting too comfortable, because of setting up camp.

My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord.

Sometimes we find the Lord's presence in unexpected places...

Places where all we see is poverty:

On a muddy, sewage-smelling road in Port-au-Prince, little girls crowding in asking for toys, touching my arms. 

With a twenty-person persecuted church, meeting together in a Cuban home. Flooded belongings drying out on the line.  They made us a cake.  

How blessed is the man whose strength is in You.

In pain - the Lord dwells there:

My grandma's bedside in her nursing home.  Sad, undiscerning eyes, squeezes my hand hard. 

In that ultrasound room, lifeless picture on the screen. 

Passing through the valley of weeping they make it a spring.

In the most mundane moments we realize we're in the very courts of the Lord:

In that run-down cottage close to home but not close enough.  Uncomfortable, unfamiliar.

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. 


Melissa said...

Well put, Mary.
My son, in the bath tub, was pleading with me for more Lego toys. He said, "If I don't get a Lego fire truck, I'll be sad!"
I had to launch into a rant he won't understand until later, about how rich he is in the things that matter. How even with no LEGO, no toys at all, with family and friends and love he could be happy. Like the Raffi Song, "All I Really Need is a Song in my Heart..."

wonder wilks said...

Wow! Maryann, this is beautiful & it will stay with me. :)

Mary said...

Thanks Melissa and Sarah.