Lord who rules over all,
even the sparrow has found a home near your altar.
My King and my God,
the swallow also has a nest there,
where she may have her young.
Blessed are those who live in your house.
They are always praising you.
Life was raw and precarious in the developing world. If we chose to, we could be in constant fear of many things, especially the safety of our children. The possibilities were endless: from possible diseases like giardia, dengue fever, or typhoid, to the many hazards that the poorly planned roads and traffic offered. It would not be uncommon for us missionary moms to feel a bit wary as we sent our children out to play or attend school each day.
What form of protection could I ever offer my three children as they made their way each day through the jungle of possible calamities cowering at every turn?
Each day was a faith challenge in itself. Learning to live resiliently with peace is a necessity for all moms no matter where we live or what season we are in.
My strain was calmed by Ps 84:3-4 as I combatted thoughts regarding the relentless possibilities that surrounded our lives. Three declarations found in this verse attuned my heart to the only One who could protect my children.
First the Psalmist declares in the first and third line, “Lord who rules over all, My King and My God.” In no small way we are invited to consider this singular power packed truth that underscores our real security… God rules over all. He is our King and our God. He is Sovereign. Indeed, He is the blessed Controller of all things! (See 1 Timothy 6:15, Phillips)
In the second and fourth line, the Psalmist gives an account about two tiny birds who have taken up residence in the temple. Not only do these birds live there, but the second declaration informs us that both the sparrow and swallow have built a nest near the altar of the Protective One. What a comforting depiction! The swallow, we are told, has planted her nest “where she may have her young.”
A compelling trait of swallows and sparrows is that they are some of the most vulnerable creatures on earth and because of this trait they tend to be cautious as they move around. These birds are very bourgeois or common. It is not unusual that these birds would be found dwelling in man-made structures. My, they are a lot like me!
And so the Psalmist points out that these little mommy birds have diligently and with great wisdom, chosen to nest their young right by the altar of God in the Holy Temple! After all, isn’t this the quintessential location for mommies to place their children? If even these little birds can find refuge and protection by God’s altar, than so must I.
How can I do that as I live in an environment brimming with troubling possibilities? As I gained perspective from the innocent trust of the little mommy birds who brazenly lodged their family under the hallowed place of God, I realized that I too could and would build my nest right smack dab on top of that altar! No more haphazard infrequent time alone with God for me. No more “third-world life is so hard and takes up too much time” excuses!
So, it was in the early years of life in Indonesia that I committed myself to make every effort to daily approach the altar of God and meet with Him in what we as believers call a “Quiet Time.” I sat with God each and every day, drinking in His Word, bathing those I love in prayer, and listening to His Spirit. I refused to leave that altar until affirmed in spirit that we had met and that in spite of what could or may happen, I was nested deeply in Him. This one choice, dogmatic though it may seem, has brought more benefit to my life as a believer than any other I might share! It reflects the Psalmist’s third declaration made in verse 4.
This verse describes the heart and life of the one who dwells in God’s house–His presence. “They are blessed,” it states, “And are always praising You.” The idea that we can be in a state of “always” praising God seems a bit implausible, but one to which we are all entitled. I mean, ALWAYS? Really? Yes, always!
God assured me that He is attentive to the apprehensive clamor seeking to rule my heart. He also showed me that experiencing His resilient peace would not be a result of Him simply waving a magic wand over me. No. His peace in my life would be the fruit of a steady intake of and absorption of my person into His Word and prayerful communion with Him. It would come as my Father and I grew in Oneness.
During our life in Indonesia, we experienced the deaths of friends, broken bones, letting our children go two countries away to attend boarding school, illnesses, parasites, car accidents, and the like.
With faithful kindness, my Protector reassured me day by day that though our life would not be free of disease, accidents, or tragic situations, it would, because of His presence and promises, be filled by a divine, resilient peace that is understood by, well, mostly no one!
Are you on a quest of protection and peace for yourself and children? Have you planted your nest by His altar? Will you make every effort to enter into His Presence by spending daily time with Him in His Word and prayer? This effort requires diligence and strength like nothing else! It may be the most arduous thing you ever do because it is so unlike what the world tells us to do. To lay down the urgent distractions that lay hold of us as we sip our morning cup of coffee is possible. Know that the Blessed Controller of all things will meet with you daily and ensure your peace, your resilience, and your sense of safety.
Dana and Tom have been on staff with the Navs for over 30 years and married over 40 years. They are blessed with six children and seven grandchildren. Dana has lived in many places throughout her life time: Florida, Maryland, Indonesia, Chicago and Colorado Springs to name a few. Dana’s loves are the Word of God, people and helping people learn.
To contact Dana email her at: Dana.Yeakley@navigators.org
Dana encourages us to cling to the promises in Psalm 83:3-4. What part of that passage encourages your heart most as a mother in ministry? Or, if there is another passage you cling to, please share it with us in the comments section below.