WEEK FIVE: RELIANCE
1 Corinthians 3:16 (NRSV)
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
Ephesians 3: 16-19 (NRSV)
I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Yesterday we considered the different ways we might receive the Spirit. Today we will ponder the Spirit dwelling within us and filling us with all the fullness of God. Our word for today is reside. Can you IMAGINE being “filled with all the fullness of God?” What would that look like?
When Jesus Moved In: An Allegory of Life and Love
I remember the day Jesus moved in. As a young teen, I responded to an altar call and invited Jesus into my heart, my inner home. At first, I was giddy with excitement because I had never had a famous person stay in my house. I was also quite nervous, as I wanted to make a good impression. I tried to follow every rule of housekeeping etiquette. I cleaned my house often, kept up my appearance, allowed nothing to be out of place, and put on my best front as a cheerful host. I understood that everything had to be perfect for Jesus.
Jesus would smile kindly, nod at all of my efforts, and lift his feet when I vacuumed. But he didn’t seem impressed; he didn’t acknowledge the work I was doing to please him. He assured me that even if my house was messy, he was here to stay. He encouraged me to quit doing so much and instead spend more time with him. I guess he was getting lonely and bored as I kept up the necessary housekeeping that I felt was needed for Jesus to remain. One time Jesus must have been so distracted that he called me “Martha,” and we both laughed when I corrected him. But he didn’t apologize…
All too soon I did something wrong. Embarrassed, I stayed in my bedroom for a few days, trying to avoid him until he forgot about it. It’s funny… I could tell he knew something was up, but he never changed his countenance toward me. When I eventually came out, he didn’t say a word, but his eyes held a combination of understanding, sorrow and pity. That look overwhelmed me and I blurted out my wrongdoing. Of course he wasn’t surprised. He just said, “Now don’t you feel better telling me?”
After a while, I started to relax around Jesus. I would let him see me when I wasn’t at my best, even before my first cup of coffee. There is something so compelling about him that I wanted to hang out with him instead of doing my housework. We ordered pizza when I was weary; I stopped trying to impress, and instead offered what I had. Jesus was seeing more of the real me and my daily living, and he seemed more at ease, too. He willingly helped with whatever was needful for each day.
The two of us grew closer over time. I was learning more about who he was and what he means for all of us. I became so drawn to him that I wanted to keep my heart/home for just Jesus and me. But Jesus said that I needed to invite others in. There was room enough for everyone, he insisted. So I decided to have a party. But when I asked Jesus to please turn some water into wine, he raised his eyebrow and said that I had missed the point. I have missed the point of several stories, it seems. He has patiently taught and enlightened me along the way.
Years passed and I began opening my deeper self to Jesus. I pulled out my photo albums, memorabilia, and a few journals to share with him. I told him stories about my past and shared my dreams about my future. Jesus would tell me so many stories, too. Some of Jesus’ habits began rubbing off on me- even some of the annoying ones like taking time to pray on very busy days, or trying to honor Sabbath rest, or even walking a lot. 🙂 I will never be perfect like he is, but I started to follow his example more often.
Jesus has been so much more than a gracious boarder. I am sure I must drive him crazy at times, but still, he stays. He has instructed and guided when I am muddled. He has listened and comforted when I am sad or burdened. He has corrected and scolded when I don’t listen. He forgives me, time and time again, when I ignore or forget his ways and my purpose. Most of all, he loves me completely. My imperfect house has been filled with so much love that I am forever changed. I am so thankful and blessed that Jesus moved in, and he has stayed, no matter what.
I hope that as time goes on, Jesus will make himself even more at home. I hope he clears out any of my belongings that have crowded or limited him. I hope he moves in all of his treasures, all of the things he would like to have here in my heart-home. In fact, I hope that my house will begin to look less like “mine” and more like his. When people come to visit, I hope they believe they are visiting Jesus’ home, not mine.
Please make yourself at home in our hearts. Keep showing us how to give you plenty of space, how to enable you to thrive, and how to be your partner in this, your home. We are just so grateful you are here. To stay. Thank you. Amen.