I was reading through an account in the Old Testament the other day, it was the section in 1 Kings that described Solomon building the temple. It contained lengthy descriptions of the materials involved, the exact measurements, and the layout. It was boring. I started to skim it the way you do when you feel guilty about just turning the page but also don't want to actually invest too much time.
But then I got to the next chapter where Solomon prays at the dedication of the temple. This is what he says, "But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven cannot contain you...Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear forgive...and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel-being aware of the afflictions of their own hearts, and spreading out their hands toward this temple- then hear from heaven, your dwelling place" (1 Kings 8:27, 30,38-39).
As I read this I realized a couple of things. First, the lengthy descriptions emphasize what a huge deal this is that God chose to make a physical dwelling among the people. The glory of the temple in it's size and splendor is a pale reflection of the glory that God actually possesses. Second, it was a massively big deal for the people to have a set place in which they knew they could reach out to God in order to find help and forgiveness. This was the part that had Solomon excited and somewhat disbelieving- there was now a physical location where people could connect with God.
Present Day TempleWe know from the New Testament, that after the death and resurrection of Jesus, we were given the gift of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?" Our level of amazement should be exponentially greater than Solomon's at the building of the temple. This is an incredible truth. Now in order to connect with God, we don't have to visit the physical temple. We have the Holy Spirit living within us.
For me this is one of those truths that is very easy to gloss over. I'm aware of it, grateful on some level for it, and know it probably has an effect on a daily basis. But my thoughts typically remain vague on the subject.
Internal Family SystemsThere's a counseling theory/approach that can help us understand the practical implications and resources that are at our disposal. I would recommend studying and reading up on this approach because I won't be able to do it justice here. It was created by a therapist named Richard Schwartz and basically teaches that each of us have many different parts within us in the same way that a family has different members. These parts all play roles and serve purposes, and they also can get into conflict with each other. In the same way that a healthy family will have good leadership from parents, we will be healthy individuals to the degree that we exercise healthy leadership of our internal parts.
For the Christian, the leader of our internal parts is the Holy Spirit, who lives within. Mary Steege, author of The Spirit-Led Life says this, "The Internal Family Systems model reminds us that we have a great spiritual resource:that heavenly treasure stored in our jars of clay. Our Self (the Spirit) joins with our parts, meets them just as they are, right where they are; and where they are is in our flesh...Spirit in the flesh: it's a special kind of connection...and because of this, there is the potential for inner peace, no matter what's happening in the world around me" (48,50).
In the same way that the Israelites used to journey to the temple, we can stop, become aware of the need within us, and bring it to the Holy Spirit. Are you struggling with anger, anxiety, an addiction, a drive to perform that won't let you relax? This is not the entirety of you, it is a part of you that the Spirit would like to touch, heal, and lead. The implications of this are best worked out in a counseling setting, but you can begin immediately to take full advantage of the resources available to you. Praying for a greater awareness of the Spirit's role and purpose in your life would be a good place to start. Stopping when you notice strong emotions or behaviors and inviting God to be involved in them is a good place to start. Share in Solomon's amazement that our glorious God makes His dwelling with men.