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The House of God, Forever

August 4, 2009

When I find music I like, I tend to gorge myself on it (much like cookies or a really comfortable new tshirt)– the past two days, it’s been Jon Foreman’s album “Limbs and Branches.” There is this beautiful song he does, patterned after Psalm 23, called “The House of God, Forever” that I kept listening to over and over again. As I was listening to it while brushing my teeth and putting away dishes last night (yes, simultaneously…I’ve got skills), the words “rest,” “quiet,” and “comfort” kept standing out to me.

“God is my shepherd
I won’t be wanting
I won’t be wanting
He makes me rest
In fields of green
With quiet streams
Even though I walk
Through the valley
Of death and dying
I will not fear
‘Cause you are with me
You are with me

Your shepherd staff
Comforts me
You are my feast
In the presence of enemy
Surely goodness
Follow me
Follow me
In the house of God, forever”

Resting usually makes us feel guilty. The idea of actually taking 5 minutes out of our day to sit, breathe, contemplate, enjoy, and absorb seems to terrify a lot of people — but what about to do lists? What about work, what about bills, what about….? I know whenever I try, I end up feeling a little ashamed (unless I’m doing something that seems like “productive resting,” like taking a walk or sitting on the beach or reading). “Shouldn’t I be doing something?” is always the question bouncing around in my head.

While my first instinct is to point the finger of blame at modern, Western culture for our workaholic ways, I can’t. I think it goes A LOT farther back than that. Notice the word that David (the “pre Jon Foreman,” if you will) uses in this song — “He makes me rest.” Since even back in the time of David and I’m sure back from that to the time of Adam, God was stepping in, taking the rake or sword or cooking spoon or Blackberry out of our hands, and leading us to quiet places. I think of Jesus, who drew away from the crowds around Him and went to silent places (during the Spiritual Practices series at MH, Shane Hipps did an amazing teaching on the practice of silence…I’m still working up the courage to actually try it).

My thought? I think through the tangled wires of sin, we’ve somehow twisted it around so that our identity sprouts from “doing” instead of “being.” We’ve convinced ourselves of the lie that our worth lies in what we produce, and not in who we are. What we produce is fleeting, but who we are is the beloved of God. I listen to the lyrics of this beautiful Psalm and when I picture Him drawing us into “the House of God, Forever,” it doesn’t seem like He’ll be handing us a checklist and keys to our new office, so that we can go on buzzing about. It seems like we’ll be laying out on the warm grass, looking at the stars next to all the ones that we love, or taking a slow walk through the sandy shallows of the ocean, with the water lapping around our ankles. And if something had to define who I was, I’d rather it be that.

(My blog friend Kate oddly enough did a post on this same topic today. Blog telepathy!)

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 4, 2009 11:12 pm

    hi! i found you through the “other kate” and this is a super good word, just like hers so i thought id let you know!

    my problem is i rest too much sometimes, and i waste a lot of time. i have difficulty putting down things that don’t matter [like friggin facebook, for example :)] and focusing on quietness with The One that made time. thats what your post reminded me of and made me want to work on…. thanks for that.

    -grace

  2. August 4, 2009 11:17 pm

    ok, sorry but i had to do a comment #2.
    now i KNOW for a fact i really like you already. i just looked under your “i could listen to you forever” list and saw matt wertz. and basically, he’s pretty much the best. for sure.

  3. Caroline permalink*
    August 5, 2009 7:59 am

    @ Grace!

    Thank you so much for stopping by! (And I’m flattered to be compared to Kate!) I can come alongside you on feeling like you waste too much time — when I burn myself out from “doing, doing, doing,” I tend to fall into useless ruts too easily. I am learning the difference between practicing silence and practicing laziness. 🙂

    And also, high five to Matt Wertz fans! He’s amazing — I’m so glad we have that in common. 🙂

    Grace and peace,
    Caroline

  4. Caroline permalink*
    August 5, 2009 7:59 am

    @ Grace (#2)

    P.S. I am going to check your blog out as well!

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