14 May 2005

Dwellings, from Sri Lanka

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” Rev 21:3

We are in the midst of monsoon season in Sri Lanka,and outside my windows the humid air churns in anticipation of the afternoon downpour. Our partnership with Habitat for Humanity continues and we’ve been in several different neighborhoods working on houses, meeting families, and learning about Sri Lankan life. One consistency is that we’ve had a lot of tea breaks in the crazy heat; they are forced, at regular intervals, and include little cookies. Short-term volunteers who have applied through Word Made Flesh to live and work with us in Galle have been coming and going in rapid sequence, keeping me busy and happy and constantly learning. I have been amazed at the way God has provided, the way he has called each person who has been a part of this home, how their love and joy and individual spirits have been a blessing to the community.

It has become so poignant to read about the promise God gives to make his dwelling among us in a place where the physical dwellings are scattered, broken,and in ruin. In Psalm 36, David writes: “Both high and low among men find refuge on the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house.”

God promises not only to be a refuge but also to make a home among us, to come near to us and live with us in all of his grace and truth in the person of Jesus (John 1:14). There is a mutual movement taking place as we take refuge in God and he makes his dwelling among us. Amidst the people of Sri Lanka who are displaced in refugee camps and without proper shelter, the God we serve is present and he cares fundamentally and deeply about all of his children having a place of refuge.

I see here in Galle a hope he gives for the future is that he is also building us into a home. His renewal of our hearts transforms us, hopefully transforms our identities and dreams and desires, so that we can fulfill the new calling he gives: that of being his hands and feet in places where the hurt, displaced, marginalized, forgotten, and wounded need to know they are welcome in God’s house, are welcome to be a part of God’s house:

“ Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

God is a dwelling. God makes his dwelling among us. God makes us a dwelling. We learn what kind of home to be when we look at the kind of home He is. The Lord’s compassion is such that he invites us—the sick, the broken, the tired & weary, the orphan and widow, the lame, the weak, the blind, the lepers and tax collectors and prostitutes, and the sinners—to make our home in him. God as a home is love; this home will never be a broken one, physically or spiritually or emotionally. He says to us that there is a place for us at his table. He promises not only peace, healing and restoration, but hope for a future covered in and characterized by his abundance, goodness and love. This is what he’s putting in my heart in Sri Lanka.

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