Home and refuge in God

Considering what it means that we “dwell in the house of the Lord for ever,” as the 23rd Psalm puts it, is an empowering starting point in facing challenges – as a family experienced after losing their home and possessions in a fire.

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One of the concepts in the Bible that I find most comforting and heartening appears at the end of the 23rd Psalm: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever” (verse 6).

A most marvelous thing, this “house of the Lord.” Without walls, wires, pipes, or paint, God provides His children – which includes all of us – with a home that has such durability that it lasts for all time.

How? God, the Bible reveals, is Spirit and Love. Divine Spirit, in all it creates, logically manifests only that which is spiritual. In this light, the real sense of ourselves is entirely nonmaterial. We are created by God not as mortals subject to the failings of physicality, but as His image and likeness, showing forth the beautiful, permanently whole, spiritual nature of God. Spirituality is not only our future state of being; it is our present state.

So, it follows that God’s spiritual creations are designed to dwell in the house of the Lord – the kingdom of God, as Jesus put it. He said, “Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20). Even if we feel that we are “poor” in comprehending that true home, health, and happiness are found in Spirit, not materiality, we can always humbly become more receptive to God’s help in understanding this.

When we turn to God in prayer to understand or feel His presence, then wonderful shifts of perspective happen. The vast kingdom of God begins to come into view. We sense more about how we each, as creations of divine Love, have been living spiritually in the kingdom of God – the kingdom of goodness and perfection – all along. Not a single thing can displace us from our home in this perfect kingdom. For each of us, our forever refuge is established, safely in God. And grasping this spiritual fact, even a little, can benefit our everyday lives.

Some time ago, a close friend of mine lost the house that he and his family called home, along with all their worldly possessions, in a fire. They were left with only the clothes on their backs and with each other.

But heartfelt prayer helped him and his family realize that our real home in God is actually something much more expansive and brilliant than what we see on the material scene. More than merely a physical structure, my friend said, home “can be any place my family gathers to share love and encourage each other.” So, his family came to permanently define home in a completely new way: wherever they choose to feel God’s presence and to love each other with God’s love.

These ideas buoyed them as they dealt with the aftermath of the fire, including finding a new place to live. My friend also told me that before the fire, his family members had often been at odds. Recognizing that the happiness of home isn’t in physical structures or possessions, but rather in the invincible kingdom of God that is so expansive that it truly is without boundaries, changed that dynamic for the better.

In a poem, the founder of The Christian Science Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, vividly touches on how our home is secure in God, divine Love:

Love is our refuge; only with mine eye
Can I behold the snare, the pit, the fall:
His habitation high is here, and nigh,
His arm encircles me, and mine, and all.
(“Poems,” p. 4)

In the all-inclusive kingdom of God, “the house of the Lord,” we each are always cherished and celebrated. All around the planet, God’s love overflows to each of us beyond anything we could imagine. In our oneness with God, in our nature as the reflection of divine Spirit, we are provided for and kept secure. Fires, floods, bombs, and storms have no effect on our invincible refuge in the divine Love that is Spirit.

As a loved hymn puts it, “Your goodness and love are mine forever; / In the dwelling of Love, I am home” (Katie Grigg-Miller, “Christian Science Hymnal: Hymns 430-603,” No. 584, para. © CSBD).

We can all experience the fuller sense of home that comes with the realization that we are always at home in God.

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