We curved along, passing orange blossoms on waving vines, the sun peering out behind soft grey clouds. It had just rained, leaving the roads glistening while the scent of fresh tickled your nose. We turned an unforeseen corner and he shifted down low, up we climbed. As we bumped and plodded along in that little Chevy pick-up he told me of the neighbors, their church, this place, and of how they had built it all themselves.
She walked me inside, the joy of a new journey uniting us both. The echo of my shoes on her perfectly white tiled floor followed us through each room. The kitchen, the den, the master bedroom, the bathroom and so on until the guest room, there the plush mattress was draped in a homemade quilt; it held a story – I am sure. There were artwork and family photos on the walls, curtains dancing in the breeze and pillows to cushion the awkward places into cozy corners. There was history here, a legacy of their lives together, from family heirlooms to mementos of trips they’d taken. A smile still sneaks across my face.
It was their home. In a place foreign to all of us, this was their refuge.
Their kitchen stocked fruits and vegetables grown locally but she prepared not-so-local meals. Their sheets held the fragrance of her favorite laundry detergent and the rhythm of the household routine spoke of their values. This home was different from the world outside, it was theirs, they were free to relax and rejuvenate here. It was a haven, a steady place to reside.
Outside and down the curvy steep road waited a world hungry for God’s love and for rice and beans. Children lived in mud pits just passed the city limits, parents desperate for work. The needs endless and the smiles plentiful. It was a mission field wide as the eye could see and as deep as the heart dared to tread. They provided what they could to help, overcoming bureaucracy and red tape to do so. It was tedious. It could be isolating and overwhelming. It was hard.
But they had a place to retreat. These missionaries had built a home on the mission field so they could be free to give and love on the people God had called them to serve. It was a place of refuge, a place to rest, to return to and re-establish identity. They had a place to refuel. The mission field itself could not do that for them, their dwelling did.
“Dwell in Me and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me and I will live in you] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in me.” John 15:4
Matthew Henry puts it this way in his commentary on John 8:31-32: “It is menein (Greek verb meaning ‘to dwell, to stay, to tarry or to remain’) – to dwell in Christ’s word, as a man does at home, which is his center, and rest and refuge.”
Your dwelling place is intended to be your anchor, your starting point, your steady. When we make it the truth of God’s word and His presence it is a sure place of refreshment, when it is the shifting sands of earthly things that refreshment isn’t so guaranteed.
No matter where your feet tread or what circles you find yourself among, they are not your dwelling place. Your shelter, your tabernacle is the presence of God. Pitch your tent in the midst of the field where He’s called you, but don’t make the field your shelter. Abiding with Christ, His word, His truth brings freedom; it is the foundation of authentic faith and beautiful confidence. We build a dwelling place with our thoughts, our feelings and our words – build with the materials of His truth.
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely and in Him I [Confidently] trust!” Ps. 91:1-2 Amp
Take stock today of where you have built your shelter, what or who is your refuge?
“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield…” Ps. 91:4 NIV
Today I am joining in with Holley Gerth in her group of amazing encouragers. Come by here and see why!