Countercultural

Look Deeper, See Clearer, Run Harder

Learning to Dwell

I remember Chicken Nugget Tuesdays at college. We had chapel every day before the lunch hour. Sometimes, if a message or worship was really good, people would linger past 11:45 when we were allowed to go. But not on Tuesdays.

Dwelling in Church

Photo Credit: photobypatrick via Compfight cc

On Tuesdays, students would leave the chapel in a storm to get to the cafeteria. Our cafeteria, like most college campuses, was a picture of gourmet cuisine—minus the flavor, variety, and quality. Thus, when Tuesday rolled around, every student knew they could get the one thing the college consistently, satisfactorily made: chicken nuggets.

I was pretty in tune with this culture myself, until I heard one of our professors share something one Tuesday. It’s a silly quote—but it impacted me to the point that I remember it three years later. He said,

I don’t want a chicken nugget to get between me and what God wants to do I my life.

That simple, silly sentence caught me.

It caught me because I realize how true it is for me—not only at college, but at every Church service I’ve ever attended. The pastor closes his sermon, there’s usually a closing song, and perhaps the pastor gives a benediction.

And then people leave.

But what if God wants more? What if He wants more for our lives than small talk, Sunday lunch, or football? Are we willing to give it to Him?

The Promise of Dwelling

I started a practice during chapel, and it impacted my entire spiritual life. Instead of running to the next thing, I decided to dwell.

Psalm 27:4
One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.

To dwell means “(of one’s eyes or attention) linger on (a particular object or place).” To dwell in God’s presence is to stay there, looking only to Him. Grammatically, David lines up “dwell” to mean, “to gaze upon.” The word “inquire” can also be translated “meditate.”

Not only does David desire to dwell in the presence of God, but dwelling is part of a promise.

Psalm 91:1
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

In essence, “The person who dwells with God will persevere under God.”

Dwelling in God’s presence isn’t about being super spiritual or having a heart like David’s. Dwelling in God’s presence is a promised anchor in a fast-paced, unstable world.

Simple Ways to Dwell

Doubtless, there’s many ways this principle of dwelling can be applied. Here are a few ways I found helpful after chapel services, which could be equally applied after a church service.

  • Dwell by review: What did the pastor just say? Reviewing the whole service in your mind can help cement the words that were said.
  • Dwell by reading: Go over the Scripture that was read. What common threads do you see? Does anything strike you?
  • Dwell by praying: Ask God to make His truth real in your life. Tell Him that you want to learn and grow, and pray through the message as applicable for your life.
  • Dwell by discussion: Find one person (or a group of people) and talk about the truths you heard. Don’t try to be the smartest sounding—just rephrase what was said, what you noticed, and how it applies to you. And listen to others.
  • Dwell by action: How does this service make a difference in your life? What will actually be different this week because of it? Make intentional decisions to specifically apply the words spoken.

Believe me when I say God wants more for your life than chicken nuggets. When we dwell, we enrich not only our lives, but also the lives of those around us. If you truly want to see God, stay awhile.