Fifteen years ago this spring I heard this song for the first time on Christian radio. There were so many good thoughts contained within the song, but this one phrase is what seemed to burn in my heart:
“take us to the throne room, in the city of our God”
We had just begun house hunting, to buy our first home after 25 years of marriage and living in many different rentals. When the song stirred my heart, I could not explain the “homesickness” for a city that I did not know, and the longing for people that needed us and that we would need too.
Later that summer we purchased a home in a small lake town in the middle of the farmlands of Southeast Wisconsin. My husband’s commute was long, but one that he felt was worth it, for the beauty of the lakes that were so close. God confirmed it was His home for us through many details that unfolded over those first months.
But it took many years before we would see the beautiful connections He had made for us in this “city:” The neighbor who was struggling with deep trials who would open my heart to a deeper way of loving than I had known before; The elderly couple who had blessed me with time for slowing down to chat, but who would later need my help after a horrible accident with the chainsaw; The elderly neighbor who would need my help driving her, and who then became a dear “second Mom” after my own Mom passed away; The artist who shared her log cabin garden with me as I watered and weeded for her, who opened my heart to rejoice in the artistic beauty of my Lord.
(my latest art journal page created this week)
In recent years, I have felt my life slowing to a crawl, and living such a different lifestyle from those days of walking to meet my neighbors. But when I look back I can see that He had been preparing me for this place of slow for a very long time–15 years actually. I may have thought I was “stopping to smell the flowers” through all of those relationships, but I was still just “pausing to smell the flowers.” All along, God has been inviting me to STOP. The rushing from one serving to the next has stilled. But the loving and the rejoicing together has only become more precious.
He has brought an “oasis of peace” in the middle of my pain-filled mornings. He has called for His loving kindness to cover me, even when I cannot jump out of bed, get dressed quickly, and breeze through my quiet time so that I can work through my to-do list. Most days lately, dressing doesn’t happen until lunch time. But the mornings and the days are full. Recently a friend asked me, “What do you do all day, since you can’t get out much?” Even though I miss my old ways of serving and doing, He has been bringing me to a deep surrender of those things that I thought were such a part of my identity. I realized that God has filled my days with HIMSELF, and loving the people who call, email, or write. I cannot remember the last time I was bored.
David’s poetic praise to God[a]
1 The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.[b]
I always have more than enough.
2 He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.[c]
His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.[d]
3 That’s where he restores and revives my life.[e]
He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure
and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness[f]
so that I can bring honor to his name.
4 Lord, even when your path takes me through
the valley of deepest darkness,
fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.
Your authority is my strength and my peace.[g]
The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.
5 You become my delicious feast
even when my enemies dare to fight.
You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit;[h]
you give me all I can drink of you until my heart overflows.
6 So why would I fear the future?
For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life.
Then afterward, when my life is through,
I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you! Psalm 23 Passion Translation
He has plunged me into that ocean of His mercy, in the middle of the driest of burning desert heat. The pain may overwhelm, and the tears might flow, but as I look at the footnotes for this verse from Revelation, I can hear Him speaking again: He has been anointing those tears for His loving.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne continuously shepherds them unto life[a]—guiding them to the everlasting fountains of the water of life.[b] And God will wipe from their eyes every last tear!”[c] Revelation 7:17 The Passion Translation
- Revelation 7:17 As translated from the Aramaic. The sacrificial heart of Christ as the Lamb will guide them and be their path of life.
- Revelation 7:17 Some manuscripts have “to living springs of water.”
- Revelation 7:17 The Greek word for “anoint” is “to wipe” or “smear.” It is possible to translate this “He will anoint every tear shed from their eyes.” See Isa. 25:8.
His touch and His relief are such balms to my heart. There is no other ONE like our Good Shepherd, who knows the best paths to lead us on. I know that song from 15 years ago is ultimately speaking of the beautiful Throne Room in Heaven, the true “city of our God,” but yet He brings such pictures of His fullness while we are on this earth. He has been calling me to see His dwelling place, His own throne, resting here where He lives in me, in this city, where He brings His love . . .
A love that is not altered or changed by the pace or the struggles . . .
A love that loves to dwell with the Beloved.
May I pray for you on the pathway where you find yourself?
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for being such a Gentle Shepherd as You call us to walk with You. I pray for my dear friends today. Would You show them the beauty of Your pathway for them? When they are filled with questions, would You show them that answers will come in time, as they follow in Your steps? Where pain covers them, would You lift them onto Your own shoulders and carry them? When the valley feels too dark, would You shine Your light on the path in front of them? Thank You that You never leave us alone to fend for ourselves. Thank You that You are calling us to stop rushing, and to dwell in relationship, loving You, and being loved.
In Your great name we pray,
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