Originally Posted: Jan 29, 2007
I visited a friend’s apartment- your typical one bedroom
apartment. It has wall to wall carpeting in all areas except for the kitchen,
bathroom and an “entry area” by the front door. Just inside the front
door is a 4′ x 4′ patch of vinyl flooring. It got me to thinking about Rev.
3:20: “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man will hear my
voice, I will come in and dine with him.”
Jesus is a gentleman and I feel He only moves into areas
where He is first invited. So, we hear a knock. And we open the door. But how
far do we let Him into our homes?
Do we treat Him like the door to door salesman? We may hear
him on the front porch so frequently that we think we have invited him into our
homes. But, have we? Has he crossed the threshold into our home?
For others, we may truly invite Jesus into our lives but
never let him get beyond that little vinyl patch. Is he technically in our
lives? Yes. Does he have free reign? No. Is he really welcome? Yes, but with
limitations. Our limitations. Our locked doors.
Let’s go to the next level of inviting someone into our homes. Say we get a visit from an acquaintance from church. Not a really good buddy but somewhat of a friend. Maybe even a new friend. In this case, we invite them into the living room. Look around. Everything in this room stays nice and tidy. There may be a newspaper on the floor plus a few things out of place, but it’s generally presentable. We’ve got the Bible on the coffee table (though probably dusty) right under the remote controls for the TV, VCR, DVD and cable box. Generally, everything in this room stays nice and “appropriate.” Granted, you can have some good visits, maybe even share a laugh or two. But, we generally keep on our best behavior in this setting. We may get to know somebody on the surface but it’s not at any sort of level of intimacy.
What is the next level of intimacy? How about being invited
into the dining room for a home cooked meal? Think of it as a natural extension
of the preliminary living room experience. There seems to be enough substance
for a relationship to move beyond nice, polite talk to move toward a sharing a
meal together. At first, a meal with a new friend is limited to remembering our
manners and generally behaving ourselves.
Before long, the walls start coming down. We relax enough to
put our elbows on the table. We start to enjoy the company.
OK, so we shared a meal or two. No disasters yet. Generally
acceptable behavior. Nothing weird. After a few times together we may even ask
our new friend to help out in the kitchen. Now we are getting into “real
relationship” territory… we feel close enough to ask for them to help.
Granted, the ‘help’ may be getting something out of the oven or setting the
table. But, it is still growth for the relationship.
And, our meals may not be quite as fancy as the first ones. We are enjoying the company enough to not need to impress with our culinary skills. Take out pizza is enough as we move to a new level of intimacy. We even let them help out with the dishes. Hanging out together is the point, not the display on the table. Fellowship is getting sweet.
As a friendship grows, we will even ask them to help on
special projects like building a deck or doing some remodeling. There is
something special about sharing a work experience with a friend… a special type
of bonding. But, this is a real test of friendship. Are you going to ask anyone
but a real friend to help you doing something that involves sweating in the
summer sun? Not likely. Sometimes it is easier to just hire help to do
something tough like moving or heavy landscaping. Only the tightest of friends
would feel free to ask some one to work that hard for no pay. But to share an
experience like this takes friendships to a decidedly deeper level.
Do we invite our new friends into all the rooms in our home? While they may get more and more free reign, there are usually a few areas where the doors stay shut. For some, it may be a spare room that acts as a “catch-all” for everything that doesn’t seem to fit elsewhere. For others, it may be a closet where we hide things that aren’t acceptable for everyone to see.
Few people are really good at housekeeping. As we go through
the workweek, it is easy to let a few things slip. But, most of us can kick in
and do some quick cleaning to keep the house presentable. For some, though, it
goes beyond being a little messy. For some, it is a real challenge. Sure, they
can keep the front rooms pretty clean but no one is allowed to go through their
rooms past a certain point. It may be their bedroom, a spare bedroom or
“that” closet. Keeping the front of the house clean takes just about
all the strength they have. The back of the house is neglected with a promise
to get more organized “someday.” But that someday never comes. It
becomes more and more of a mess until cleaning it is well beyond our reach.
I know folks that have a true dysfunction regarding house
cleaning. Over the years, their bedrooms have become so cluttered and dirty
that they wouldn’t think of allowing even close friends into that room. They
wouldn’t even allow a close friend to help them clean it up. It’s too shameful
for them to even hire somebody to help them do. They are simply embarrassed
that things have gotten that far out of control. Before long, it becomes a deep
bondage without anybody to help. In time, the clutter can creep into more and
more rooms until finally, no one is allowed inside. These people have become
prisoners in their own homes. Maybe it is a defense mechanism. Maybe it is a
sickness. Maybe they have been told they weren’t any good at housekeeping.
Whatever the case, they need help.
We can have lives like that as well. A little mess gets
bigger and bigger until we turn around one day to realize we are all alone and
ashamed to ask a friend for help. But, that is precisely the point where Jesus
rolls up his sleeves and offers to dive in and help in the really tough stuff.
We have to ask but he is ready and eager to help.
One of the neat things about Jesus’ help is there is no
shame. He took all that on the Cross. There is love and acceptance as we work
with him toward health and restoration.
Granted, it may take some time. The house didn’t get cluttered overnight. It may take a while to get it back in order. But, we have a Lord who is patient and will work with us a lifetime if that is what it takes. He has a purpose and that purpose is restoration, peace, and health.
OK, so the house is all nice and tidy. Friends are welcome
throughout. Sometimes there are problems in the house that aren’t a result of
willful neglect. It may be something completely out of our control such as bad
soil, termites or a limb falling through the roof. Granted, there is usually
some room for personal responsibility but by and large, we are pretty much
Take the foundation for instance. What if you set your
foundation before you knew Jesus? You didn’t know that sand and pine straw
wouldn’t provide a solid basis for a life. But, now you do. Our Lord wants to
go down and shore up your weak foundation with a sturdy one. Better yet, he
wants to create a new foundation. For some, it may mean getting into the crawl space
and shoring up some areas. For others, it may mean drilling new pilings to jack
up a slab. In either case, Jesus wants to do some real construction work.
Have you ever crawled beneath a house? It is typically dark, damp and musty smelling. Who knows what you may find down there from skeletons of long-deceased animals to various nests. Few houses in this area have enough room to stand up. It is usually just enough to crawl around, maybe on your hands and knees. Usually, there will be some areas where you’ll have to crawl on your belly like an alligator. Bottom line: it’s not fun work. But, Jesus wants to get dirty right there next to us.
Repairing foundations is tricky business. Few handymen are
competent to get into a project like this. Ask the wrong workers to tackle a
foundation problem and you may not be able to open up all the doors. A moderate
problem can quickly become a major disaster. How nice it is to have a Lord who
truly knows foundations. We can trust him to do it right, showing us how much to
lift this joist, where to place extra supports and when we need to remove
rotten piers. He’s a master carpenter.
Did we maintain our termite treatment policy? Or did we
neglect preventive maintenance? Now, termites have eaten away some of the
walls. Some family members in Houston noticed a bit of bubbling paint on a
window sill. They picked at it to see why the paint was coming loose. It turns
out the paint was all that was intact. The entire wall had been eaten away by
termites. The window was about to fall out into the yard. That would allow all
kinds of critters into the house.
How many termites do we have right outside in the yard wanting to eat at our houses? Keep the treatment in effect and you have nothing to worry about. That means regular inspections and ongoing treatment. In our spiritual comparison, that could be staying in the Word and prayer. But, what if you have neglected important things and let the termites get a foothold. Again, the good news is Jesus still wants to repair the damage, even if we opened the door to it. It just takes a lot of time to do these repairs. But remember, in Him, there is no shame. Just ask His forgiveness and have a true desire not to do it again. That is all He needs. Now, it will still take some work. But, Jesus can fix it.
The same could even be true of a limb falling through the
roof. Have we been faithful to look around at the potential hazards near our
house? While it is our responsibility, Jesus never says a repair isn’t covered
in the way an insurance company disallows a claim. Jesus is always there ready
Sometimes what looks like a bad thing can become a good
thing. Say a car goes out of control and plows through the front door. You
couldn’t have prevented that. It isn’t your fault that some bozo was paying
more attention to his cell phone conversation than where he was going and ended
up in your living room.
But, while you are doing this work anyway, it would be a
nice time to do a little more work while the crews are on site. These projects
can almost take on a life of their own. I once remodeled my mother’s house.
Work on two rooms became four. Two months turned into two years. Before it was
all said and done I had put in a new kitchen, completely replaced the wiring,
some of the plumbing, painted inside and outside plus added insulation. But, it
left a wonderful home that would serve her for years.
Sometimes God allows things into our lives in order to set
the stage for some expansion of our homes. It was probably something we wanted
to do for a while but kept putting off. Well, that Chevy in the living room
became the nudge we needed for a much needed and much appreciated renovation.
All homes need maintenance. And, it isn’t quite as easy as
we see on HGTV or the DIY network. The magazines touch on the highlights but
for every three-page article topic there are a dozen thick books that deal with
the details of the same operation. Maintenance is tough but essential.
What happens if you fail to perform routine maintenance for
a long time? For some, it stays out in the nebulous “someday”
category and never gets done. Some say they can’t afford it. And, looking at it
in the natural they probably don’t have the money for it today. But, maybe they
could give up a few other luxuries and invest that money toward the house.
Which is better? Short term fun or a sturdy house that will last you through
your retirement years?
I have watched one retired woman ignore problems for years.
She just wouldn’t go in some parts of her house. The roof over the den started
leaking. But, she never went back there to notice. Oh, she saw the damage as
the leak ruined some keepsakes. But, money was tight and she just chose to
ignore it. After a while, the floor started getting weak. The piers started
shifting which threw the roof out and caused some of the doors not to close.
Then the window beneath the leak simply rotted out. The leak that could have
been fixed with some asphalt patch material has now become a major project
costing thousands of dollars. Ouch!
But, when she finally got around to making the repairs, it became a blessing as it gave her a chance to add a door where she had wanted one all along. God does the same thing in our lives. We are the ones who mess it up but somehow in his grace, he causes it all to turn out for his glory. And to our benefit.
Maintenance and renovation go beyond slapping a coat of
paint on some dull walls and dusting the throw rug. For some folks, we’re
talking about a potential renovation series for “This Old House.” The
old house may be functional but it isn’t nearly what it could be.
Jesus wants to roll up his sleeves and get working. On a
major project like this think of him as the construction manager. It will take
a real team effort but the end result will be a really neat home that will meet
the needs of many.
Remember that home remodeling takes a lot of time, creates a
lot of dust and typically has plenty of delays. With a kitchen remodel, the
refrigerator may be in the dining room and the microwave may be in the den. A
bathroom remodel may have you brushing your teeth at the kitchen sink. Time to
be flexible! But, when the project wraps up, isn’t it a great feeling to enjoy
those new rooms! Our lives are the same way.