If you could be anywhere right now, where would that be? Would you rather be someplace else?
Recently, I asked that question to open a sermon. Uh-oh.
Because what if your honest answer, even during church is, “Yes, I’d rather be at the football game!” Or, “I’d rather be on a cruise, or in the mountains, or at the Oregon Coast — reading, resting, watching waves at sunset, around a campfire with coffee (or Cabernet), with a few good friends … in my happy place.”
Do you have a happy place? A place you like a lot? A place that pulls you in, and draws you back mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally, longingly, repeatedly? A place to hide? A place to revive? A place you honestly would rather be?
As I type these words, I sit in such a place near Portland. Yet I know I cannot stay; this hiatus must end, and another trip will get planned. Sadly, happy places do not seem to last.
Plus, to get to a happy place, you will need to travel. Sometimes, this will require bodily mobilization; at other times, you can transport by way of imagination, as you close your eyes to conjure up images of awesomeness inwardly, until at last you arrive.
And maybe the need to get to your happy place finds you presently fleeing a place in this world that is sad, scary or even dark. You long to land safely. There.
In Psalm 84, we get to take a tour of a happy place, a “blessed” place, of sights, sounds, sensations and safety. Along the way, the sons of Korah, guided by God’s spirit, seek to assist your own song as you ponder the who, how, why, what and wherefore of a proper happy place. “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord. … Blessed are those who dwell in your house … whose strength is in you … who trusts in you” (Psalm 84).
Significantly in this song, the driving need and the deepest longing is to enter into a place that is beautiful, blessed, and better than all others. For the Psalmist, it so happens that this happy place is a person; one who draws him in, brings delights and dwells with him.
As celebrated in God’s songbook and storyline, this blessed presence is enjoyed in the person of Jesus Christ. He is God’s true anointed (Psalm 84:9; Luke 4), God’s true temple (Revelation 21), the way to God’s house (John 14) and the way into God’s true country (Hebrews 11). Or, as we say at Christmastime, Jesus is Immanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1).
Happily, this presence is not fleeting. It never ends. It is personal. It is divine. It is blessed. Accordingly, Psalm 84 ends with a benediction for those who trust in the Lord, who find in him their true happy place.
Right now, is there anywhere else you would rather be?