By SCOT THIGPEN
“How lovely is Your dwelling place O Lord Almighty. For my soul longs and even faints for you. For here my heart is satisfied within your presence. I sing beneath the shadows of Your wings. One thing I ask and I would seek, to see your beauty, to find You in the place your glory dwells. Better is one day in Your courts, better is one day in Your house, than thousands elsewhere.”
These are the words to a Matt Redman worship song inspired by the book of Psalms. God’s dwelling place, in the midst of His people, was the tabernacle. He took the initiative to dwell there with His people. Later, the temple became the dwelling place. Through an abiding faith and belief in Jesus Christ as Savior, God’s dwelling place is now in the hearts of believers. Collectively, the body of believers is the church.
Fall is an exciting time in Mississippi for many. September opens up hunting season with a literal bang. Dove hunts draw friends together for a tradition that goes back to people’s childhoods. Fall marks the beginning of football season and tailgating at The Junction and The Grove and just about every other college campus. The cooler, crisp air invites people to the great outdoors again for any number of activities to enjoy in our great state.
I recently joined a dozen or so of some of my closest friends for a 100-mile bike ride in Little Rock, Arkansas. We traveled together in a large Sprinter van and enjoyed not only the ride, but the blessings of health and fellowship. I am sure that others have their favorite fall traditions, as well.
I have long heard the view that says one can worship on the front of a boat, a duck blind, or in a deer stand in the top of a tree just as well as in church. Believe me, I have had my share of fall mornings when the cool air, along with a majestic sunrise through the lifting fog was as great of a reminder of the Creator as any sermon could ever describe with words. However, since God tabernacles or dwells in the hearts of believers, Sunday morning church worship is vitally important for you and me. You are a witness to others with your presence because God dwells in you.
As a Sunday school teacher, I have also heard many people say, when they miss church, they just don’t feel like their week is the same. I recognize that in my own life. And I think some of the lyrics to Matt’s song hold the reason—that a believer’s soul longs for God. Fall is definitely my favorite season of the year, but all the hunts, football weekends, bike rides, (even if it were thousands of them), can never ultimately satisfy the craving of the human heart. Only God can fill that space and satisfy that longing.
Remember that only God is perfect. Humans never have been or will be, and churches are made up of us humans. However, the hope and truth of the gospel is the promise that God can, and is continually redeeming and refining His people back into His image by the work of the indwelling of His Spirit. That assurance, as evidenced in changed hearts and lives is what glorifies God. When people see less of you and more of God in your life, it is a testament to His “tabernacling” in you.
And since you will be coming to the place of worship that you choose, invite a friend as well. Have a great fall.
Scot Thigpen is president of The Thigpen Group, a Wealth Advisory Firm in Jackson, MS. He is married to the former Kimberly Inkster and they are parents of two sons and attend Christ United Methodist Church. Contact Scot at firstname.lastname@example.org.