Making God Your Home
by Dr Ian John
‘Whom do I have in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.’ (Psalm 73:25-26)
The psalmist was wrestling with his own versions of status anxiety, self-pity and outrage against the violence and injustice of his world, but discovered a fresh perspective in an encounter with God. He recognised God as the source of his adequacy and the hope of his future. He found God to be the real sufficiency of his life.
All the characters of the Bible face crises that centre on God’s sufficiency. The suffering of life, the demands of our calling and the finiteness and brokenness of our existence all inevitably expose deep questions about our own adequacy and the foundation of our lives. Many of the psalms reveal people in the midst of this struggle.
In our own world we face insecurity and uncertainty, real, imagined and manufactured. We wrestle with the idolatry of our consumer age, one that ruthlessly highlights our inadequacy and then offers consumer goods or experiences as the solution to the black hole it has generated and encouraged. We ache for our world, our communities, our workplaces, sometimes even ourselves, as we seek to be God’s people in places of genuine need. Are we sufficient to make a difference? Is God?
In answer, the Bible invites us to consider God’s actions in the world. The psalmist finds that the arrogance, conceit and violence of the wicked do not, in fact, have the last word, but are revealed as mere dreams and fantasies (Ps 73:18-20). The Bible gives us rich imagery of what God has done in Jesus, images that go far beyond sufficiency. We are like brides dressed for a wedding (Rev 19:7,8). We are more than conquerors through the one who loved us (Rom 8:37). We have been raised to a place of unimaginable and undeserved glory and responsibility (Eph 2:6). These are the actions of the all-sufficient one who calls into existence things that do not exist (Rom 4:17). All this God has already done in Jesus – we wait only for its final unveiling.
God welcomes us, then, to grow in the knowledge of his character. The One behind these actions is not a benign abstraction. God is to be known personally, relationally. Job, in his journey of discovering more of God’s sufficiency, says ‘I once lived by rumours of you; now I have it all firsthand – from my own eyes and ears’ (Job 42:5, 6). So we come to know personally God’s faithfulness, goodness, wisdom, justice, power, compassion. We find He is present with us and profoundly for us, in spite of the circumstances of life.
We are meant to live our lives in mature dependence on God, trusting Him, drawing refreshment and strength from Him, glorifying Him, learning to follow His ways. The psalmist chooses God as his refuge, his home (73:28). Over against the noise, threats and enticements of the world he comes to recognise God as the centre of his identity and security.
God’s sufficiency means we are free to live lives of humility, thankfulness and contentment. Life is not about self-promotion at the end of a selfie stick. We are free to allow God’s Spirit to produce His gracious fruit in our character and relationships. It is fruit very different to the conceit of a world committed to self-sufficiency and manipulation (Gal 5:18-24).
God’s sufficiency means we can set aside anxieties and find genuine rest. Life is not primarily about productivity, efficiency and mastery. God knows the plans that He has for us; He knows us intimately and searches out our ways.
God’s sufficiency enables us to engage our world with courage and wisdom. ‘God is able’, declared Daniel’s companions, facing down the treachery and intimidation of a powerful king and his court (Dan 3:17). ‘Our sufficiency is from God’, declared the apostle, patiently and sacrificially seeking to take the good news to the people of another empire (2 Cor 3:5).
God’s sufficiency enables us to be a source of refreshment and blessing to others. In another psalm about finding our home in God, those who have set their hearts on this pilgrimage transform the desert into a place of springs (Ps 84:6).
In his sweeping visions of Jesus, John sees the Lamb with the scroll of history in his hands. No-one else has been found worthy or sufficient to take it up or open its seals. He is surrounded by living creatures, elders and angels. John hears them along with every creature in the heavens, on earth, in the seas, singing (Rev 5:9,10). This is a great reverberating hymn of God’s sufficiency – the creation’s declaration of the One who is absolutely Alpha and Omega. The song is being sung now, the rarely heard soundtrack to our own times. We are invited to join, through our prayers and all that we are. For from Him and through Him and to him are all things. Glory to Him forever (Rom 11:36).