Dwelling With the Lord and Giving Thanks

As Walla Walla University (WWU) holds its week of worship Oct. 5–10, two WWU faculty members share devotional thoughts inspired by some of their favorite verses in Scripture.

To Dwell in His House

“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple” (Ps. 27:4).

My family and I visited Puerto Rico last year during WWU Christmas break. We enjoyed some of the typical highlights such as Old San Juan; Rio Camuy Caves Park; the Christmas lights, music, and street food at Plaza Colón in Mayagüez; night kayaking the bioluminescent bay in Fajardo; enjoying traditional Puerto Rican Christmas fare with aunts and uncles in Isabela and Lajas; and more. For me, however, the most significant part of the trip was more personal. It was our visit to Rosario.

Rosario is a barrio of San Germán and the family seat for both the Montes (paternal) and Ballester (maternal) families. My parents were born there, met there and were married there. Rosario is ground zero for our shared family history and is full of wonderful childhood memories of visits to my grandparents’ house. My grandfather would take me around town as he ran his errands and went about his business. My grandmother would dote on me as I “helped” her prepare meals — mostly shelling gandules. We talked, and we played. I looked forward to those visits and loved spending time with my grandparents.

I believe that Psalm 27 shares a similar sentiment. The psalmist is announcing his desire to spend all his time in the temple. This desire to “dwell in the house of the Lord” is cherished and singular. The Clear Word Bible uses the personal phrases “stay close to The Lord” and “talk with Him.” The Message Bible intimately paraphrases to “live with Him in his house” and “contemplate his beauty.” Few other verses so accurately describe the believer’s desire to be with Jesus. No other verse so fluently articulates my personal desire to dwell in His house, to be close to the Lord, to talk with Him and to contemplate His beauty.

Josefer Montes, WWU School of Business chairman

Moments of Pure Joy

Several years ago my husband and I attended a friend’s wedding in Paradise, Calif. On the long drive from Washington state, we had fun speculating on how the town was named. One conclusion was that perhaps everything was so perfect in this region, the name Paradise was just logical. Sunshine, good air, contented healthy people and an abundance of resources for all to enjoy. Paradise.

My experience tells me that people in Paradise most likely have the same concerns and joys as those of us from Walla Walla or College Place. In fact, I am sure, at this moment there are men and women in Paradise agonizing over business failures, worrying about children or parents, and fretting over the mundane details of work and family life. No doubt, there are even people in Paradise who are exhausted, depressed and hurting — desperately sick in mind, body and heart.

Want some good news? All of us, whether we live in Paradise or College Place, can have moments of pure delight even in the midst of pain and chaos. Paradise moments happen every day in every town. Just look for them. Celebrations with family and friends. A beautiful sunset. A hug from a child. A good book. A robust conversation about a good book. Sabbath. A new baby. An inspiring piece of music. The touch of a spouse. Apple pie or cinnamon rolls. Puppy breath. The hummingbird at the feeder. Watching clouds. A smile. Peace that defies understanding. A comforting hug. Baking bread. A warm cup of tea. The list could go on and on. So, be intentional this week and start your own list. Begin to recognize the paradise moments in your life.  Be prepared to be surprised and to give God thanks for the moments of pure joy and peace He unexpectedly supplies to us in this broken and weary world.

Courage and peace.

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).

“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7).

Pam Cress, WWU associate vice president for graduate studies

October 05, 2015 / Walla Walla University
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