A number of years ago I attended a women’s retreat where a former missionary was the speaker. She and her husband had raised their children during the years they had served in missions, thousands of miles from the homes of their grandparents and other relatives. She had worried they would grow up without a sense of belonging as they moved from city to city and from country to country.
But then the Lord gave her these verses from the Psalms:
“Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations…. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 90:1; 91:1 ESV)
He assured her that He Himself was her children’s Home and Place of Belonging — not a particular house, city, country or even group of people called “family.” She realized there was no better sense of belonging she could give her children than teaching them how to find their home in the Lord.
It’s not just missionary children that struggle with a sense of belonging. Many singles struggle, too, and in some circumstances more than others: during holidays that emphasize family togetherness — great for families, but a rather lonely time for singles; when church services are canceled so families can spend time together; while moving to a new job and location alone and trying to find one’s niche; when going through the line at a potluck and and then standing with food in hand wondering where to sit; or when divorce or death of a spouse or parent changes the familiar family structure and along with it a sense of belonging.
But no matter the circumstances, single or married, our only true place of belonging is in the Lord. Depending on a sense of belonging from a spouse, family, group of friends, or colleagues is a false security: any or all could be taken from us or fail us in some way. Because Jesus died for us, His Father has become ours and we have joined His family. His Spirit has come to live within us, and we are never alone. No matter where we are or what has been taken from us, we can live in the shelter of the Most High and in the shadow of the Almighty. There is no greater place of belonging than belonging to Him!
Reality is that we struggle as humans to recognize the security of the Home that is God within us because it’s not physically tangible. But once we do we can come back to it again and again and again. It’s a learning process to make Him our instinctual refuge. The more we turn to Him, the more automatic it becomes. When we long for a sense of familiarity when all is unfamiliar or unsettling, we can reach out to our Father for our sense of belonging and security. He is constantly with us, no matter where we are, where we go, or who we’re (not) with.
The Psalmist David must have come to this place of belonging. I love the passage where he declares:
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning,And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,Even there Your hand shall lead me,And Your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10 NKJV)
How about you? Do you struggle with a sense of belonging? Do you feel God’s constant presence and talk to Him wherever and whenever? Tell us in the comments below.