If you’ve ever lived in more than one house (which nearly all of us have) you know that they don’t all “feel” the same. This is especially evident when people move from a place they’ve lived in for all long time to one much different in character, layout, or size (or all three). For instance since I left St. Bede’s Church in Williamsburg, I have never found a nicer, well furnish and luxurious kind of apartment for myself.
But the truth is that there’s nothing more satisfying than having what you can call your own Rectory and doing things the way you want to. Normally after such a move, things often don’t quite feel right. People sometimes try to overcome this by bringing along all the furniture from their previous house or condo or apartment, but that only helps to a certain degree. In other words, a new house often feels like it doesn’t fit them quite as well as their old one, doesn’t feel much like a “home”, but more like a “house”.
But it usually doesn’t stay that way. Over time, they begin to make the house into the home they want it to be. They often start adding things that enhance their experience of living there. They plant gardens and bushes and such to add their personal touch to the yard. Some put up siding or paint the outside or inside the color they want. Others arrange the furniture in a way that suits their wants and needs. They get to know their neighbors and the neighborhood they now live in. And maybe most importantly, they start to fill their minds and hearts with new experiences from living in the house, things they begin to associate with this new place and no other.
And there finally comes a time when the new house and those who live there FIT, snugly, naturally, perfectly. All the “strangeness” seems to be gone. And for many of us like me, when enough time has passed, I begin to find it harder and harder to imagine anyone else living there but me.
“Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and
make our dwelling with him.’”
It’s an incredible thought that God not only CAN dwell within us, but that he WANTS to dwell within us, wants to make our hearts and minds and souls his home. This isn’t a God we have to search for or chase after or wonder where he is. No – our God is close – so close that he is reaching out to touch us, trying to get our attention, knocking in the hopes we will open a door and let him in – not for a short visit, but for always. Folks, the good news we need to remind ourselves constantly is that our God never leaves our side, never stops hoping that we will prepare a place for him.
Something, it doesn’t seem quite right about that, right? Can’t God do whatever God wants to do? Isn’t it more true to say that God prepares a place for US, not the other way around? Well, yes, there are no limits to what God can do. But there are limits to what he seems
WILLING to do – seemingly self-imposed sorts of limits that invite our cooperation – in a sense, “demand” our cooperation – things that God is unwilling to do unless we help make it so.
Maybe, that’s precisely what makes us human, what makes us uniquely God’s children, what makes us reflect God’s own image. God has a role to play (the most important role), but so do we.
And that seems to apply to God’s ability (or inability) to make each of us his dwelling place, make his home within us. I know that at times I put up obstacles that get in the way of God being fully alive in me. I get distracted by the busyness of life. I start worrying about myself more than I should, neglecting others in the process. I fear letting God to fully take root in me, afraid that he will ask too much from me.
I’m not sure that I really want to make all the same choices Jesus would make, but rather just want to go “part way”, follow Jesus a “little”. And I certainly don’t always want to forgive and be kind and generous and merciful. That seems too hard. In a certain sense, I want God to always be there for me, but maybe don’t always want to be there for God.
And so, things don’t always seem to “fit”, things don’t always work in sync between my thoughts and motives and actions. It’s kind of like God is in there somewhere, but there is still a level of strangeness. I guess you could say he’s kind of living in my “house”, but I have yet to truly make it his “home”.
And this “home” God wants to create is a combination of the work of both of us. Some things around my house can only be done by me, while other things are best left to God. It’s not unlike being willing to shampoo the carpets or change a light switch, but needing to call in a professional to remodel the kitchen or take out a wall. The difference is, this home remodeler has no intention of leaving. He will stay with us, in our house, awaiting for instructions to make that house a little more like a home, a place that is a perfect fit for he who lives there.
Maybe this analogy doesn’t quite work for you. That’s ok. It’s certainly not a perfect one. The important thing is to always be mindful of the closeness of God, always be asking him how we can be a better host, always be asking him to help transform us into something more beautiful than we were before.
My dear friends, he’s waiting for our “instructions”, waiting for our invitation, waiting for us to join hands with him and begin the work that needs to be done, work that helps us live lives in more perfect imitation of him. Let’s not keep him waiting. The house within each of us needs to become his home as soon as possible.