“Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God.”
I memorized Psalm 84 years ago. Verse 3 caught my attention today. The phrase “near Your altar” jumped out at me and gripped my heart. This is where I want to live—near God’s altar.
The altar is where we meet with God. In the Old Testament, it was where sacrifices were offered, prayers were given, and where our Holy God met with His people. The altar was a sacred place where only priests could approach.
Today, thanks to the work of Jesus Christ, that altar is in our hearts. We are God’s temple; He dwells with us. The ironic thing is that we can still choose to live apart from God even though His altar is in our very hearts.
Can you feel when you drift from God? That separation as you leave the temple to pursue the world? Now turn back toward God and feel His light wash over you. Your heart will leap for joy, tears may spring into your eyes, and the feeling of “home” fills your soul.
Approach the altar of grace, let your senses soak it all in. Let this become your normal. Go ahead, make your bed there, eat your meals in His presence, rest your back against the altar as you read or work on your computer, circle the altar as you go about your daily tasks. The altar is no longer just for priests but for all God’s children. Jesus gave us this gift on the day He said, “It is finished” and the veil was torn in two.
God allows the sparrows to nest near His altar, and Jesus tells us that we are “worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31). Not only does He allow us to approach His altar, He calls us to it, He welcomes us there, and even yearns for our presence near Him.
I can hardly imagine it. The God who created the universe, planets, stars and suns, the Creator of earth who filled it with all that we see, this same God yearns for our company. He seeks us out and welcomes us to join Him. He chases after us and relentlessly protects us. He died for us. He invites us to meet Him at the altar He placed right in the middle of our souls.
Stop running from Him and run to Him instead. There is no better place to make your dwelling than near the altar or our God and Savior. Pray with me:
“God, I want to stay here with You forever. I want to make my home near Your altar where I can always feel Your presence, hear Your voice, and share every moment of my life with You. I thank You, that You provided access to Yourself and that You welcome me into Your presence. I am awed by your love for me, that You would desire to have me near You … I am unworthy of such a privilege, but You have covered me with Your righteousness and made me worthy because of who You are. Thank You, Jesus, for granting me the right to be called a child of God. Thank You for Your sacrifice and Your love. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for living within me and guiding me to the heart of the Father. Thank You for being my guide, my counselor, my friend.”
It is my sincerest prayer that you will join me at the altar of God. For it is only here, near Him, that we can find truth, hope, peace, and the fellowship our souls long for.
May the spark of longing draw you home—to the altar of God.