I have lived in parsonages my whole life. My dad was a United Methodist pastor, and when I was 6 years old, I was living in my family's 4th house. We didn't move again until I was 15, and when we left that childhood house I felt like part of me was being ripped away. Over the course of the next 15 years I lived in countless places - my parents' new house, college dorm rooms and apartments, grad school apartment, newly married basement home, my husband's and myself's new apartment, my husband's first, second, and third parsonage... I've lost track of how many times I've moved in my life. I've struggled to remember my own current phone number and zip code! Now I have children. I long to give them stability. I long for them have a place - any place - that remains constant. I know I am so blessed, and I see God meet our needs miraculously all the time! And yet I still long for a place... A place where we have memories of my kids as babies, as toddlers, as young children... A place where I do not constantly have it in mind that we are probably just going to leave the friends we make here in just a few years... A place where I can, like a mother bird, build a safe, stable, and secure nest for my little ones to thrive.
Yesterday the gentle hand of God arranged my life so that I happened to read Ps 84. I read in verse 3, "Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise..."
As often as I have read that Psalm, I had never noticed that verse. I guess I had never needed it like I do at this moment. The gentle voice of God spoke to me. There is no safer, more stable, more secure place for my children than before his altar. It is through worshipping Him that I build such a nest for my kids.
And this is a nest that they will have access to forever, to which they can always go no matter where they are, no matter how barren their current location might be at any moment in life (84:6-7: "As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength..."). There is no greater inheritance I could possibly give them. The truthfulness of this is proven by my own life. My parents built the nest for me in this way, and now, far from them, hundreds of miles from anything that is familiar, at a church that has been difficult for my husband, feeling dry and barren and exhausted, for no apparent reason the springs of life flow within me as I pray and read his Word. I do not need to have had a single, stable home as a child for this to be so. I need to have had genuine, godly love and discipleship, and that I had in abundance. How very blessed I have been!
As I have sung many times, "One day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere" (84:10). There is no better path than the one marked for me and my family by the One who loves us most. And I trust that it is so: "No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly." (84:11b)