Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:1-2 NIV).
Friend to Friend
As Bing Crosby crooned, “I’ll be home for Christmas,” on the radio, I scowled at the moving boxes cluttering my living room. Well, I won’t be! I thought with an ache in my chest. Our house had sold to buyers who were eager to settle in before the holidays. We faced weeks of living out of suitcases before a cross-country move to a sight-unseen rental house.
The wintry weather matched my chilly mood. I longed to hang our handmade stockings over the fireplace. I dreamed of my kids’ voices singing carols alongside our dear church family. We wanted to gather around our tree, now barren of lights and decorations as we prepared to leave it behind. I wondered how long it would be until I felt at home again—or if I ever would.
If we ever long for home, it’s during the Christmas season. We feel the yearning to bake and decorate, sing and celebrate, and cozy up with the ones we love. If life has taken us to lonely, unfamiliar places, the holidays can rub salt in the wound. We wonder where the joy of home can be found.
The Bible’s story of Jesus’ mother, Mary, tells how she too was uprooted from all she knew. Instead of arranging her wedding gifts to prepare a house for her groom, she packed up for an 80-mile trek to Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-5). Rather than the sweet joys of pregnancy “nesting”, she was cleaning the grime from a feeding trough to cradle her infant son. Before settling into the neighborhood in her girlhood hometown, she and Joseph fled outside the country’s borders to save her child’s life. For Mary, taking up the gift of Jesus meant setting down the blessings of home.
Yet Mary did not carry bitterness as her path took twists and turns. She loosened her grip on her hopes and plans so she could say, “I am the Lord’s servant” no matter what God asked of her (Luke 1:38). Her longing for home—for security, belonging, and love—was fully satisfied by the Savior God placed in her arms.
For each of us as God’s daughters, home is not a place but a Person. Psalm 91:1 says, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” God did not call you or me to form our identity around our address but in Him, “my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust” (v. 2).
If God is our home, we are sheltered from fear of the future. He stands like a protective wall when others threaten to harm us or slander our name. Instead of shame and guilt, we’re accepted, forgiven, and made new. When we feel alone and unseen, He promises, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). In our anxiety, God welcomes us into His haven of rest and peace. We’re given a place in the family of believers who will surround us forever.
At Christmas, we celebrate Jesus coming into this world to save us. We remember His willing sacrifice of home as he had “no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). Yet when we respond to Jesus in faith and love, we receive His beautiful promise:
“My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23).
Looking back, I see how my difficult move across the country held God’s perfect plan to move me closer to Him. He met me as my closest friend. His Word refreshed my hope in heaven, our eternal dwelling place. My heart’s cry to feel wanted and secure was heard by the One who loves without limits. He proved that wherever I go, He is with me and is all I need.
Is your heart longing for home today? Does your situation in life feel like a huge mistake? Do you wonder if you’ve been forgotten or if you’ll ever belong? Make your home with Jesus as He welcomes you with open arms.
Dear Lord, in this season I struggle with loneliness. I feel insecure, wondering where I truly belong. Thank You for meeting me here as my loving Father. Teach me what it means to make my heart at home with You. Be my dwelling place as I find rest for my soul in Your love.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Name one season in your life when you felt the most accepted, secure, and at home. How might God be using today’s struggles as an invitation to receive His love and make your home with Him?
More from the Girlfriends
To help you draw closer to God with the one you love, Joanna and her husband Rob authored 101 Prayers for Mr. & Mrs. This heartfelt book of prayers will enable couples to commit their struggles, dreams, and relationship to the Lord with prayers and inspiring Scriptures.
Whether newlyweds or couples who have built a home together for decades, 101 Prayers for Mr. & Mrs. is a beautiful resource for any couple’s toolbox.
(As an Amazon Associate, Girlfriends in God earns A SMALL COMMISSION from qualifying purchases using this paid link.)
© 2021 by Joanna Teigen. All rights reserved.
Perfect timing for this devotional. My husband and I just moved across the country to a city where we don’t know anyone. Instead of putting up Christmas decorations I am unpacking boxes. Thank you Joanna for the reminder that my home can be anywhere because Jesus is all I need to feel “at home.” Merry Christmas!
Perfect devotional for me today. I loved the statement that said, “For each of us as God’s daughters, home is not a place, but a Person”. We moved several states away from friends and family right before Covid shut everything down, as my husband took a new job. I miss my daughters so much, but Christmas is really hard. It has been hard to find a new church and new friends in our new home. But I know without a doubt in my heart that this is where God wants us right now. The entire move was a testimony to God’s faithfulness, and I trust Him that this season in my life will also be a testimony. And like Joanna, the last two years really has been a time of drawing close to Him, knowing Him in ways that I never did before. That in itself is a beautiful gift.
Thanks, Joanna, for your words today. Thanks especially for drawing our attention to Mary—the real Mary, not the one we see in pictures all cool and collected with the otherworldly smile on her face and a halo over her head. Not only did she “scrape the grime from the feeding trough” to make a bed for her baby, just think of all she had to do and endure before and after, being the “highly favored” chosen one of God to bring his Son into the world. She had to get up the courage to tell Joseph, “Uh, dearest husband to be? I’m pregnant, but no! It isn’t what you think!” And, yes, she journeyed 80 miles (and over mountain ranges, I’ve read) to be with her cousin Elizabeth, to be with someone whom she could talk to! Imagine having to keep that secret to yourself knowing no one would believe you and knowing they would only heap shame on you…or worse…stones! Then came “the time that she should be delivered.” Fine, a journey to Bethlehem. Great, just what you want to do when you’re about to have your baby, right? And did she have the “luxury” of a donkey to carry her there? Very unlikely. Joseph was a poor carpenter. He and Mary probably walked the whole distance. Then they arrived in Bethlehem. How long were they there before Mary’s time came? Where did they stay in the meantime? We see them in a stable surrounded by a stable’s four-footed inhabitants on the same night that they arrived in town, but the Bible doesn’t say that. Maybe they were staying somewhere else and had to go outside to a stable or cave where livestock were sheltered so they wouldn’t disturb other guests while Mary was having her baby.
So, there she was, out in a stinky animal shelter of some kind, doing what she could to make the place as suitable as possible for her and her newborn soon to come. I hope she wasn’t all alone. I mean, besides Joseph. I’m sure Joseph was a comfort being there (or did he wait outside like a lot of men do getting all squeamish about being around a woman giving birth?), but perhaps a midwife or other women were there to help her with the birth. Someone had to go boil some water, right? 😏 Anyway, we can all agree that giving birth where farm animals took their meals and used the “bathroom” was not an ideal place to have a baby. Soon after she gave birth, her privacy was interrupted by a group of shepherds who told her an angel had appeared to them and told them to come see the very child she had placed in the feed box, or manger. This she must have wondered and marveled at, further adding to the knowledge that her baby boy was indeed a very special child. To add to her wonderment, days later at the temple in Jerusalem, she was met by an old man and an old woman who had things to say about her baby, one of those things was that “a sword would pierce her heart.” What did that mean? All of these things, the scripture says, she pondered in her heart.
What next? About 2 years later, her little family had to flee to Egypt or else the baby would be killed by a jealous and mad king. That must have been unsettling at best and rather terrifying to have to leave her home on short notice and make a long, strenuous journey to a foreign country. Years later, after returning and making her home in Nazareth, no doubt she heard the whispers: adulteress! sinner! How could she explain her innocence to the gossip mongers? All her remaining life she would bear, unjustly, the mark of shame and condemnation from ignorant and hateful people that knew her and her past. And when Jesus began his public ministry, how did she feel? Scripture indicates she was both proud and puzzled by what her son said and did. Finally came the ultimate horror. She watched him die a criminal’s death—executed on a Roman cross. Can you imagine the anguish she experienced then? Her questions? Her fears? Her despair? But despair turned to joy three days later when Jesus rose from the grave, alive again, and nothing would ever be the same. Her love for her son became melded with worship.
We have to admire Mary. She was only about 16, bible scholars think, when Gabriel appeared to her with the news she would be the mother of the Messiah. What a life she had. What she endured because she obeyed God—unwaveringly. As a Christian raised in what is a more “Protestant” branch of the faith (personally, I haven’t “protested” a thing 😉 ), I have seen that followers of Jesus are reluctant to talk much about Mary, fearing to appear in accord with those who hold to Roman Catholic doctrine, or a higher veneration of the mother of our savior. I think this is a shame. Mary does deserve honor. She should be admired, especially among us women and our daughters. Any Catholics reading this, I know you don’t worship Mary and I’m not one to question your devotion and love for Jesus. We are all one in the body of Christ.
Whew. I didn’t intend to write an essay here. Yesterday, I taught a Sunday school lesson on Mary and Elizabeth, so this is all fresh in my mind and I guess it’s still kinda bubbling over in me. I’m just awed by this 16 year old teenager and her devotion to God and her knowledge of scripture. Her poem of praise to God after greeting Elizabeth is a marvel and is based on Hannah’s praising God in the Old Testament Book of 1 Samuel. I don’t think I was that “in tune” with God when I was that age. I was a Christian but I had a lot of growing up to do. And taking an 80 mile hike over mountains knowing you’re pregnant? Well…no, thank you. She wouldn’t have gone alone, by the way. She wasn’t foolish. Yes, this girl was made of tough stuff. God knew who he was choosing and she carried both the burden and the joy of being the mother of Jesus throughout her entire life faithfully till the end.
Kathy, I’m so glad you’re finding peace in Christ as you settle into your new home and community. I’m praying he is especially near to you as your faithful friend and that moment by moment, you feel secure in belonging to him. I’m praying your Christmas holds precious gifts of his presence for you!
Mari, I’m sorry you’re struggling with the separation from your loved ones and the challenge of finding your place to belong in your new community. You have my heart as you wait on God to bring friends and sisters in Jesus into your life. Thank you for sharing your trust in God with us–that he has you where he knows is best, and that he will bring you what you need at the right time. Your faith in him encouraged me! God bless you this Christmas and in the year ahead!
Thank you for helping us to better understand Mary’s experience as the mother of Jesus! And thanks, too, for the reminder to trust in God’s perfect plan, no matter where he leads us on our own journeys in life. He is faithful and good, and everything he does leads us closer to our precious Savior. Merry Christmas!
Hi Joanna. Your blog is so spot on when it comes to moving over the holidays – or any time of year for that matter. I would like to share this message with the many followers of Just Moved Ministry. Just Moved is a Christ-centered ministry that guides uprooted women to trust God with their move and shows them how they can adapt, feel connected and thrive. I would like to share your blog on our website, justmoved.org, for the month of December. I will link to your website and include your bio. Thank you!
Ann, I’m so grateful the message can encourage your community! Thank you for your kind words and for sharing. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!