Summary: Have you ever said, "It's good to be home?" Why? What's so good about home?
“Soul Talk: I Want to Go Home”
In New York in the spring of 1927, Lillian Alling, a young servant, became very homesick and decided to return to her family in Russia. Because she had saved only $100 and would not accept lifts from strangers she would have to walk the 12,000 miles. Equipped with maps, a knapsack and an iron rod for protection, the frail girl passed through Chicago, Winnipeg, British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska, arriving in Nome, the halfway mark for her epic journey, in July 1929. Soon after leaving Nome, she was seen approaching Cape Prince of Wales and that was the last time anyone on this continent is known to have seen or heard of her. She had apparently reached the Cape, as she had planned, obtained a boat and rowed across the 36 miles of Bering Strait to Siberia. That’s a real longing for home.
While you’ve probably never walked that far to get home, you know the feeling. You take a wonderful trip and have a great time. But you no sooner drive in your driveway and enter your house when you breathe out heavily and say, “It’s good to be home.”
As a college freshman you could not wait to leave home for school, to be away from family and be independent; it’s what you desired for several years. At Thanksgiving you return for the long weekend. After a night in your own bed and several home cooked meals you say, “It’s good to be home.”
An astronaut flies to the moon and spends several days in space; he’s overwhelmed, awed, and inspired. He’s already planning to return on another mission. Yet when the shuttle lands and he steps out onto mother earth, he says "It’s good to be home.”
The Israelites experienced the same emotions every time they traveled to a special celebration in the Temple – it was good to be home again. That is the context of Psalm 84 – on just such a trip the Psalmist thinks about being home with God. And that strikes a harmonious chord within us, because OUR DEEPEST LONGING IS TO BE HOME IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD. Why is this longing so compelling?
First, of all, to be at home with God is to live in a CONSTANT ENVIRONMENT OF HIS PRESENCE. We all have places or experiences where God was very much alive to us. For Abraham it was Bethel. For Moses it was Mt. Sinai. For Jesus it was Gethsemane. For the Psalmist it was the Temple. Being away from the Temple, from the presence of God, freshens perspective and brightens memory. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, which leads to homesickness. OUR DELIGHT IS CENTERED WHERE GOD LIVES. Verse 1:”How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty!” The place where God lives is beyond expression. It is difficult to understand the impression that the temple of Solomon made on the Hebrew worshiper. David proposed the temple and amassed the materials. A hundred thousand talents of gold and a million talents of silver were collected from the people. When he had donated gold from his own fortune and that of the other princes, the building contained something like the equivalent of $4.9 billion in precious metals. It took seven years and six months to complete. Thirty thousand Israelites and 150,000 Canaanites were utilized as hewers of stone, carriers of water, and builders. God's presence in the temple was overwhelming in the dimensions of the place. In the Old Testament world you met the living God in the massive, gold-covered cedar beams and the stonework of that building. Following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus the focus shifted to a different dwelling of God. Paul envisioned it and said it was untranslatable; John envisioned it and could only explain it in the symbols of the book Revelation. But in every case it is not so much the place that is important but the person who lives there. The value of any place lies in people in that place. To be with God, to live in His presence, is the greatest single delight our souls can hold.
That’s why the Psalmist continues, verse 2: “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” Because we delight to be in God’s presence, OUR DESIRES ARE CENTERED WHERE GOD LIVES. Our hunger consumes us; our appetite is for God. It is an intensity of spirit. Like a baby crying out for an unmet need, our whole being cries out for God. While the primary reference here is to worship in the sanctuary, the desire is for the presence of God! That’s why John, in Revelation 21 & 22 ends his description of the new heaven and earth by describing the effects of the presence of God: no more death, sorrow, sighing, -- no need for light of sun, moon, or stars for God Himself will be with His people. That’s why John writes that the ultimate hope is that we will see God in Jesus face to face. Remember how the hymn writer put it: “One glimpse of His dear face all sorrows will erase!” This is why worship is so critical for us – it forms our desires, frames our perspective, and enables us to worship and walk daily in the presence of God.