I have lived in many different houses. I raised my children in a sprawling bungalow by the sea, and in a century-old farmhouse with crooked floors, and in a renovated cottage tucked in the bend of a glacier-fed river. Each one became home because we dwelt there as a family. After the upheaval of a move we would gradually settle in, learning the features and flaws of each house and its neighborhood. Pictures were hung, familiar furniture placed and cupboards organized until the house had our unique family stamp on it. I recall sitting up late at night, aware of the quiet breathing of my children asleep in their rooms, feeling the walls wrapped around us like sheltering arms. We were home.
My spirit found a home when I gave my heart to Jesus. All my restless wandering in a cold, inhospitable world was left behind at the door of this warm place of communion with Christ, the lover of my soul. At last I found shelter, nurture and peace in a place of eternal refuge. There were times of temptation and rebellion when I thought about leaving home, then I remembered Simon Peter’s response after many of Jesus’ followers turned away from Him. Jesus asked His disciples, “‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.’” (John 6:67-69 NIV) Where and to whom would I go? No other place or person could give my heart a home like Jesus.
It is quite conceivable for Christ to be the home of my heart, for He is sovereign over all creation, with arms as wide as the universe. But when I discovered His desire to make His home in my heart, I could hardly believe it. He said, “If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23) Notice the two references to love – if anyone loves Me – and – My Father will love him. When Jesus takes up residence in someone who loves Him, the Father blesses them with His love and along with the Spirit, they create a home there.
So in my messy, fickle, broken heart …. God comes to live. I can’t just seat Him in the living room and serve Him tea. He peeks into every dusty corner, looks under all the unmade beds, opens closets and drawers to see what I think I am hiding. Then with loving care He throws open the windows, washes the dirt of the years away and creates a home filled with His refreshing Spirit. He is not just a house guest, He is the One whose love has transformed this frail human house into a home, a place of rest and refuge.
Someday when my spirit leaves its earthly house, I know where it will find home. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:1-2) I will be at home with Christ, in my Father’s heart forever.