Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
- Psalm 127:1
Anyone that has ever moved to a new house will know how odd it is to see the sum of your life as simply a bunch of cardboard boxes. All your worldly possessions packed away, your most loved items getting lost amongst the boring essentials. It can feel scary or it can feel exhilarating - but never quite secure. This was the reflection I made as I stood and looked at the fully packed car which contained everything I owned before my family and I made the long trek down the country to move me into my university accommodation.
I had lived in the same house for my entire 18 years of existence until I decided to leave and move halfway across the country to bible college. I had lived within the same four walls and under the same roof and had always called that space my ‘home’. I had noticed the rooms becoming smaller with every birthday that passed and, looking back, how my bedroom walls changed colour as my personality was shaped and changed by life experience. As I grew, I itched for change, the familiarity of my house didn’t feel quite right - like an old jumper that didn’t quite fit anymore. Although I used the word ‘home’ to describe that house, it no longer felt like the definition of ‘home’ that had grown within my heart. My most formative years happened in that house - from child, to teenager, to almost-but-not-quite an adult - and moving to Malvern signified one of the biggest life changes I had made up until that point.
Once I arrived at bible college, one of the first thing I wanted to do was move into my new bedroom and put all my possessions away, determined to make this new space feel like my newfound definition of home - but it wasn’t meant to be. I had arrived with an expectation that this place would fulfil my need and longing for ‘home’ and was bitterly disappointed. No matter how I organised my room, how many or how few possessions I owned, even when I moved rooms in subsequent years - I never fulfilled my longing for ‘home’ within my heart.
Over my past three years at bible college, I’ve done a lot of reflecting upon this seed that God planted within my heart years ago. I realised that my longing for a home comes from a desire for safety and security - something that I think everyone desires to some extent. I’ve looked for ‘home’ in other areas of my life too - in books, films, social media, friends, my fiancé - and never been truly satisfied. A phrase came to me: “Home is where the heart is”. And this is what I’m learning - my heart isn’t where I started in Lancashire, my heart isn’t in Malvern, and my heart isn’t where I’ll move to next. My heart cannot be contained by four walls and a roof and therefore my home - my safety and security - doesn’t look like that either. My heart is in the Lord, and He is my home.
And this, I feel, is something that we can hold onto in these uncertain times in which we live. If our hearts are in God, we know from His word that He is unfailing and will never leave us. He is a secure foundation - a home that will never fall down, that we will never outgrow and that feels ‘right’ for us - He is the ultimate safety and security.
So my encouragement today is simply this: to build your home within the Lord, the only one who can provide you with all that you need.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
- Psalm 91:1-2