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~ Finding a Place for God ~

How’s this for a zealous resolution?…”He [king David] swore an oath to the Lord and made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob: ‘I will not enter my house or go to my bed – I will allow no sleep to my eyes, no slumber to my eyelids, till I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob’” (Psalm 132:2-4). David vowed to provide God with a physical temple of human focus for use of his royal sons and as Israel’s house of prayer.

Now let’s consider Paul’s very clever way of respectfully introducing the Athenians to the new covenant view of God’s dwelling place: “’Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an alter with this inscription: ‘To An Unknown God.’ Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else…God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring’” (Acts 17:22b-28, NIV).

Paul changed his tune a bit when addressing the converts. In his first letter to the church in Corinth he was blunt: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

The intersection of David’s oath and Paul’s declaration is a challenge to us. Our bodies are genetically flawed, afflicted with physical and neurological disorders. Paul described this in the language of his time: “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me…When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members” (Romans 7:14-17, 21-23). 

Wow! Does not Paul speak for all of us? So how can these bodies of ours be sacred temples of the indwelling Spirit? Yet the Psalms tell of our hearts containing the “road to Zion,” and Zion is the dwelling place of God. Does this prospect not excite us with zeal right into the heart of David? Somewhere in our disordered and flawed bodies and souls is the road to Zion, somewhere in the mess of our mental distractions, spiritual attention deficits, temptations, intrusive thoughts and aberrations of behavior that Paul described eloquently, is the sacred dwelling place of the Creator of all, the Mighty One.

That is good news! So good that I wonder why we don’t participate in David’s oath to not enter our houses, climb into our beds, close our eyes in sleep, until we find and know that dwelling place in us for the One who is the Source of all life and being.

David’s resolution is a call to a contemplative life. God demands we devote one day a week, for our own good, not His, to awaken from the set routines we so easily fall into, to remind us, as Jesus instructed, to “Seek first the kingdom of God.”

Once we find that sacred place in our bodies and souls where God lives, we can retreat to that temple in any second of any day or night to be nourished by His wisdom, His love, His forgiveness and His devotion to us. As David wrote in Psalm 132, “Let us go to the place of his dwelling; let us go to kneel at his footstool.” But first, let us zealously seek to know where that place and footstool is, even if it means we skip some meals and sleep in our pursuit. Isn’t that treasure worth the sacrifice?

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services
~ Education, Research and Advocacy
   in the Christian Faith ~

Spiritual Resource Services  © March 11, 2005

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