Everlasting Dwelling

orange-sunsetThere are those mornings that crown and when I open my eyes, the remembering comes.

Remembering of all of yesterday’s weariness and the remembering of today’s already-piled work, up clear to the ceiling.

There are some mornings that crack open with the stress already clawing within my chest.

Or began in the night before, in the turning-over moments of semi-consciousness. Then, a nervous ache greets every stirring.

Like this morning…well, night. A time supposed to be full of sleeping. It was full of a unhinged mix of sleep and wake—a mesh of mess and forgetfulness. Gnawing in my stomach, there always just below the surface of sleep, was the remembrance of the pressures coming up this next week.

A three hour test. Two courses, with each a wheelbarrow-full of their own unknowns. Articles, deadlines, conferences, small groups, book editing, piles of notes, call back to memorizing Matthew 6, cards and emails to write up, real whole meals to cook, textbooks thick enough to use as lethal weapons…does it have an end, after all?

And then the farm. Will the milk hold out? Why don’t the chickens grow feathers back and why doesn’t the goat stop bleating when there’s nothing in the world wrong with her? When will the goat kids sell? Will we get the cabbage or will the snails prevail? So much to wonder, so little it seems I can fix…

I long to run from the pressure and the anxiety. Run lest the mountain of worries come toppling down.

Though in one sense, I am to run this race.

Yet, in another sense far flung, I am to be still. Be still and know.

Because that mercy and goodness Ann Voskamp speaks of is chasing me down.

She tells the story of the never-failing Pursuer:

The pastor had preached it….He said that you can think goodness and mercy just follow you, but the Hebrew word for ‘follow’ is radaph’ and it means to “to pursue, to run after, to chase” or, quite literally, “to hunt you down”.

Who is this God, to not just send us a nice note and leave it to us to muster up a response?

What a God, who wraps up in the flesh like yours and mine and steps through heaven’s gates into earth’s cesspool, just to snatch us out of our sin-death. And wrap you and me in whitest radiance.

What a God, who would be Immanuel, with us for now and ever.

Who chases me down in my head-down rush into destruction.

So the result of mercy’s hunting, of goodness’ pursuit?

I will dwell in the house of the Lord.

Forever.

Sisters, hear. Forever.

“Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”

– Psalm 90:1-2 –

“One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.
5 For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.”

– Psalm 27: 4-5 –

Mrs. Voskamp declares:

“And nothing can overwhelm me — like grace can overtake me.

No matter when you look over your shoulder, that’s what you find: God’s blessings overtaking you. No matter what a day, a life, looks like, this is what it all stacks up to for every person on the planet: We are all chased by grace.”

And, sisters, grace is not just a word that sounds Christian or a song that’s sung until it’s lost its sparkle.

Gospel-rich, grace words like charis and radaph and adovah and apostoleo aren’t just a scrawl of ink on paper, or a blip of pixels on screen, or a contortion of sounds on a tongue. There is a Word that lives, and each of His words reach into me like living things–active, sharp, sweet.

And when I abide in Him, and the Word abides in me…

And when I stop and see the mercy and goodness chasing on…

And when I am content with nothing in the world but that One Thing–to behold Him forever…

And when I am still and know…

Then, the stomach-tightness fades. Grace is a Savior catching me in arms Everlasting.

Those arms, that encircling dwelling in a God of widest mercy, that house of refuge–the doors, the dwelling-gates, the arms, are never flung wider than in this moment when God reaches down to a troubled sea of a heart and speaks only three words.

“Peace, be still.”

And the calm seeps in like a foamy tide.

The grace-song of eternity is nearly audible.

And I am still.

“In the midst of the awesomeness, a touch comes, and you know it is the right hand of Jesus Christ. You know it is not the hand of restraint, correction, nor chastisement, but the right hand of the Everlasting Father. Whenever His hand is laid upon you, it gives inexpressible peace and comfort, and the sense that “underneath are the everlasting arms,” (Deuteronomy 33:27) full of support, provision, comfort and strength.”

— Oswald Chambers —

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