Are You a Shopper or Dweller?
The immediate view out my window is an indoor/outdoor shopping mall. As I sit hovered high above, I’ve been able to detect two groups of people: the shoppers and the dwellers. The shoppers are those who are moving around swiftly, sometimes frantically, looking to buy things, while the dwellers are those who are sitting leisurely in outdoor cafes, not buying, just being. I have definitely been a part of both these groups, but what dawned on me this morning as I sipped my coffee and began my time with God, was that perhaps this mall scene is a little snapshot of how I approach my relationship with God. I couldn’t help but wonder: Am I a shopper or a dweller?
If I am honest, I often begin my prayer time (which I write in my journal) with:
Good morning Lord, I seek you, expectant that you will speak to me.
Though subtle, I think this might reflect a consumer mentality. I sort of cringe even as I write it out. It's not that seeking God to speak to me is a bad thing. But there’s a motive of coming to him only to get something in return. Whether it’s clarity over what I should focus on that day, or peace over a conflict I had with a loved one or healing from a nagging sickness or direction on what course of action I should take… I often enter into my time with God seeking not him, but to get something from him. Yikes.
But how does God want us to approach our relationship with him? Does this consumer mentality offend him? After all, he does tell us to “ask and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7). And in asking for things like wisdom, guidance and forgiveness, we are promised it will be given “generously” (James 1:5). Making requests and petitions of all kinds is an important part of the faith journey, is it not (see Philippians 4:6-7)? It is. But perhaps it’s not all our relationship with God should be about. Imagine if I went to my husband only seeking to get things from him. I don’t think that would go over too well. One of the best things about close relationships–be it a best friend, a spouse, sibling or parent–is the fact that we can just be in each other’s presence. There is an ease, a comfort, and a deep sense of satisfaction just being together. Words don’t even have to be exchanged.
I think it might be the same with God. Or at least how he intended it to be. Perhaps a major part of our time spent together should be…just being. I’ve always loved the NASB version of Psalm 46:10:
“Seize striving and know that I am God.”
Other versions say, “be still.” Sometimes we need to go to God and just be still, letting our asking, expecting and requiring of him seize for a while, so that we can become dwellers in God’s presence, as Scripture invites us to do:
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” – Psalm 91:1
To dwell means “to live in, reside, be settled, stay, abide.” It is as if God is saying, “Come, take off your shoes and stay a while. Leave your titles, your agendas and your worries at the door. Just be here with Me in the warmth and safety of My shelter.”
The neat part about choosing to come to God as a dweller instead of a constant consumer, is that the one thing that will bring true satisfaction –rest for our bodies, minds and souls–is a promised outcome. Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Dwelling with God and rest for our souls go hand in hand. But rather than a motive of ours, it is an outcome of his.
As we approach God in prayer today or this week, or even as we attend church on Sunday, may we be determined and even eager to go as dwellers, rather than consumers, saying nothing other than:
Lord, I am here dwelling today. Thank you for… You.
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