Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! (Psalm 139:7–8)
Churches are wonderful places. As they grow old, they hold within them the memories of the faithful in times past. As we grow old with them we find comfort in the familiar stones, windows and mustiness. No wonder the Psalmist exclaimed: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” (Psalm 122:1).
This is all good, but it isn’t the whole story. Whilst there is something special about gathering for worship, there is a danger of thinking that God only lives inside the church walls. The phrase “house of God” is misleading, as it tends to suggest that God is safely tucked up inside. Not so!
As we face the prospect of church services once again being stopped, we should take comfort from Psalm 139. It is not possible to be absent from God. Or, to put it another way, it is not possible for God to be absent from you! Over the next few weeks we may be scattered, but we do remain united in Christ. It may be that you can only pray at home, but those prayers reach the throne of God just as surely as prayers uttered in church.
John Arrowsmith (one time Regius Professor of Divinity in Cambridge) wrote:
A heathen philosopher once asked, “Where is God?” The Christian answered, “Let me first ask you, Where is he not?”
Where is he not? Take heart! God is with you