“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. ”
Psalm 84:10 (NIV)
Psalm 84 is one of my favorites.
I memorized it years ago because it gave me such hope as it spoke of the blessings found in seeking and trusting God, and it still gives me the same hope today. However, now the words land very differently in my heart than they did so long ago, as life has given me many opportunities to test the truths to which it speaks.
I remember very vividly the day God used this Psalm to humbly whisper truth and encourage me all at the same time.
Leaving our previous church in 2011 for the one we've now attended for nearly 7 years was difficult. There were no ugly reasons for the move; we just knew God was calling us to make a change. This was hard for many reasons, the biggest of which was because of how much we loved those who had become our church family. Still, God was asking us to follow him into the unknown, so we were obedient.
The change was rough on all of us, but as one who had been actively engaged in teaching and leading in our previous church setting, it was especially difficult for me to land in a new church that didn’t know me, my calling, or my giftedness. It was actually downright painful. I had all this experience, plus now a seminary degree, and I wasn’t getting to use any of it.
Why would God do this? Why would he lead us away from a church where I was getting to do great things to bring us to a place where I could initially utilize none of my skills? To say I was frustrated is a gross understatement. I was angry and to be honest, somewhat bitter.
Frustration soon turned to pride and I dug my heels in a bit. I didn’t want to serve at the new church in a capacity that didn’t use my giftedness. It wasn’t fair. So I decided to do nothing for a while. Still, I needed to make new friends, so I joined a runners group at the church that ran races to raise money to provide clean drinking water for people in underdeveloped countries. I thought at the very least I could make some friends, get in shape, and do something good for the world in Jesus’s name. Sounded like a win all around.
The running was not so great – I’m slow, slow, slow. However, I did meet some really nice people and began to form friendships. Several months into our race training, I got an email requesting that the runners hand out programs and greet at the doors on Sunday morning. This was the type of serving opportunity I had already said no to because “it wasn’t utilizing my giftedness.” However, I wanted to be a team player and said yes.
Sunday morning came and it was actually really nice to feel part of a serving team and to smile and greet people as they entered the building. Now, for reasons unknown to me, it was taking longer than usual for the auditorium to open up. A few people started to gather around the entryway, and it was then that a staff person from inside poked their head out of the auditorium doors and waved for me to come over to them.
I had my running shirt on and programs in my hand, so they knew I was a greeter. “What’s up?” I smiled and asked. To which the staff person said, “We are running way behind in here. Could you just stand here in front of these doors and make sure no one gets in before we are ready to officially open up?” “Oh sure,” I said and confidently turned around, glad to help.
I happily smiled at those waiting to enter and apologetically said it would be just a few more minutes. Then it happened. The words of Psalm 84:10 came rushing into my heart and mind like a flood.
“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”
Tears immediately filled my eyes and in my heart, I could hear the Lord whisper, “Steph, I see you. I know the gifts and talents you have because I gave them to you. For now, though, you are right where I want you to be, guarding a door in my house.”
That moment changed everything for me as God’s whisper melted away my pride and taught me to trust his sovereignty in a whole new way. Yes, he was lovingly calling me out by reminding of a verse I say I believe. And yes, he was also tenderly encouraging me by letting me know that he saw me and that he wasn’t surprised by my circumstances or how I was serving in our new church.
Ultimately though, what he was really doing was teaching me how to be a servant, which is what I most needed to learn to become the best reflection of his son Jesus in our world.
For Your Reflection…
Wherever you are and in whatever situation you may find yourself, I can promise you God knows you are there. He sees you. How might your situation feel differently if you believed this truth?
Do you believe that his intentions towards you are loving? Why or Why not?