King David of the Bible’s Old Testament knew a lot about moving. He went from a sheep pen to the palace in his life time. Psalm 142 was written in one of King David’s temporary housing situations: a cave. Maybe my rental on Applewood Ave was not so horrible after all?! My chicken scratch in my Bible’s margin reads “Exactly the way I feel! End of February 2009 transition to MI from OH.” This is how I felt in my temporary housing situation maybe you can relate and find hope in these timeless words written from one of the worst temporary housing situations in history:
“I cry out to the Lord; I plead for the Lord’s mercy. I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my trouble. For I am overwhelmed…” (Psalm 142:1-3a NLT)
Overwhelmed was an understatement. I had an active 2 & 4 year old. I hadn’t wanted to move and we were in the middle of the national housing market drop. Nothing was easy. I poured out my complaints to God, I cried and pleaded as David once did in the cave, I in my little blue duplex rental.
“…and you alone know the way I should turn. Wherever I go, my enemies have set traps for me.” (Psalm 142:3b)
I knew God had a plan but my eyes were too blurry with tears to see it. Enemies were all around me enticing me to take up a “temporary housing situation” instead of residing with God. Enticing me to live in worry if we were going to take a big loss on the house. Inviting me to live a lie to my friends and family on how I was really feeling. Convincing me to live in silent bitterness towards my husband who was wrapped up in work. I fell into the traps of binge reading novels while letting the kids watch tv all day, drinking alcohol just enough to dull the pain, and pouring hours into Facebook. TV, reading, food and drink, social media are all fine places to visit but we are not meant to live there, they are enjoyments of life, not life sources.
“I look for someone to come and help me, but no one give me a passing thought! No one will help me; no one cares a bit what happens to me.” (Psalm 142:4)
I hid a lot of what I was feeling then. I didn’t realize how normal the feelings of grief, loss of identity and insecurity were to a mover. That I needed to unpack emotionally as much as I did the physical boxes. I did not want to worry anyone yet I began to resent people for not realizing I was hurting. I also thought since I was the new girl people should initiate me but that often wasn’t the case. I hoped that once I was out of my temporary housing situation these problems would evaporate but they just compounded.
“Then I pray to you, O Lord. I say, “YOU ARE MY PLACE OF REFUGE. YOU ARE ALL I REALLY WANT IN LIFE.” (Psalm 142:5)
David was homeless and felt friendless but he wasn’t hopeless. From the belly of a dark cave, David realized that God Himself was his place of refuge. God dwells in our hearts when we invite him in. If He is our home and he makes his home in us, that is the ultimate eternal housing situation. Then it doesn’t matter where we live, in a cave, a blue duplex, everything is temporary housing until we abide with Him. He is all we need. We spent countless hours touring homes, scouring the websites and attending open houses in search of what we really wanted in a house. A life with God is like finding your dream home, its everything you want and need to live.
“Hear my cry, for I am very low.” (Psalm 142:6a)
Too often we try to handle things on our own and turn to God as a last result when all else fails. We get low on energy and hope and like a car low on gas, we begin to sputter and risk quitting before we finally go fill up the tank. I challenged myself to read a psalm a day in my temporary housing situation and the words became like fuel for me, to make it a little further each day towards my eternal home.
“Rescue me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me. Bring me out of prison so I can thank you.” (Psalm 142:6b-7a)
I am sure that cave felt more like a cell than a refuge some days for David. I felt like a prisoner locked into that temporary housing situation, waiting for our house to sell, to buy a new one, to build a new community. It felt impossible to settle until I was free of the temporary housing situation. However the prison was in my mind not realizing those things can’t effect my contentment, joy and peace when I trust and abide in God. I began to find things to thank God for even in that temporary living situation and it was key to unlocking my chains.
“The godly will crowd around me, for you treat me kindly” (Psalm 142:6-7)
1 Samuel 22 tells David cave story. David was on the run from the current king, his father-in-law because Saul learned that David, not his biological son would become his successor. He was considered a criminal and hid for his life in a cave. God gathered family and friends to David until he was the leader of about 400 men. That must have been such an encouragement to have people come along side of him in his cave days, who believed that he would one day wear a crown. In the palace and good times of life it is harder to differentiate true friends from users. You can trust a friend who was with you in the cave. God, in his kindness, brought me a crowd of friends that I value to this day because they accepted me in my cave days.
Sometimes we are afraid to move into people who are in the dark caves of their life. But as Christ-followers we live by his example and power. David was forced to move to the cave as a perceived criminal. When they moved Christ into a cave after his death on the cross, many thought they were burying a criminal. By God’s provision, David would emerge from the cave and move his followers into the palace. By God’s power, Christ would emerge from the grave the Resurrected King and will one day lead his people from this temporary housing situation on earth to Heaven, our eternal home.
So where are you settling? Are you still living in the temporary or have you made the move to the eternal? Are you finding your refuge in God or are you trying to escape your enemies in your own strength, to hide out for a time in the darkness, or indulge in a temporary satisfaction? Jesus doesn’t insist we present ourselves a palace but will move into us as a dark cave. A king transforms a cave or any housing situation into a palace just by his dwelling there.
So basically you are a dark cave, you become a palace when the king moves in and then get to move to the heavenly palace with him for eternity. When we make our final move will have no more reason to cry, no more complaints or troubles. Our overwhelming circumstances will be replaced with overwhelming joy and wisdom. We won’t be low, we will be high. We won’t be imprisoned, we will be free. That is all I really want in life!