Sunday, November 22, 2009

Parade of Homes

Do you enjoy glimpses of people in their homes lit by evening light? I do. Home decor and layouts fascinate me. There is something comforting and intriguing about seeing others move and work in an environment so much the same as--but different than--my own. A private confession: I love our home.

As a SAHM, I spend a lot of time here. We used to move often. To make resale easier, every room was painted the same color. All the carpet was the same. We were ready to sell at a moment's notice. Until we moved twelve years ago. Now we hope to stay. Not too long ago my husband stood in the dining room, looking at the rooms on either side of him, and had an epiphany. "Hey," he called, "have you ever noticed that none of our rooms look the same?" "Yes, Dear," I answered, "I planned it that way."

Of the time I spend at home, some of it is spent cleaning, dusting, decorating, and doing basic home-maintenance. Most of the time, however, I am simply doing other tasks and enjoying my surroundings because they are comfortable, they are mine and, honestly, because I delight in them. They fit my taste.

Perhaps abiding in Christ is much the same. To abide in Christ and His commands is to study them, know them. Then to arrange them in my life where they belong; to polish and straighten them. But most of the time, I simply live out the tasks of life, enjoying the blessings and the comfort of His commands. They have become the structure within which I move. They are chairs in which I rest. There is a kitchen from which I serve and meet the needs of others. In the living room I relax or spend time with others, getting to know them and sharing from the abundance God has given me.

If, however, I were to view the teachings of Christ as harsh, rustic, and rigid, I don't think I would enjoy my domicile at all. My life with Christ would be sparsely furnished. I might simply have a one-room soddie with a stiff, uncomfortable chair and faded linens. As I sat in my chair, my back would be ramrod straight, my feet planted firmly on the floor. Yet, when I would visit the homes of others, they might tell me of the authentic one-of-kind memento they recently acquired in their walk with Christ. I would be jealous. Angry. How could they have such beautiful objet d'art while my life was one of barrenness and self-pity?

May I suggest that the God of both homes is the same? The teachings of Christ are the same. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3).

It is my perception of and response to God that makes the difference. It is the moving of His Spirit that brings life and freedom. When I submit to His Spirit, and take God at His Word, I find that He is loving...good...kind...gentle... patient...lavishing good things, beautiful things, on His children. Perhaps you, too, have found that the artifacts in an exquisitely decorated home are often reminders of great pain and loss. The stained glass window may represent the provision and sufficiency of God after the loss of a child. The dried flowers in the hand-blown vase may be a reminder of a gift given at a time of financial hardship.

The difference? The one who lives with a good God, who submits to His will and way, relying on Him, finds a beauty, solace, and comfort that can be found no where else. The one who views God and His commands as burdensome and weighty captures only the fleeting treasures the world has to offer while her heart stores up criticism, resentment, bitterness. Life is hard. Life lacks comfort. Life lacks refinement and grace.

Today, where am I living? What does my abode look like? Am I using it and enjoying it in a way that honors and pleases God? Am I sharing it with others--even sending them out the door with gifts and reminders of the grace of God? Am I abiding in the teachings of Christ? (2 John 9).

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