This past semester I took part in the most awesome book study where a group of women in our church read through "Finding Your Purpose as a Mom" by Donna Otto. We met tonight for a reunion and I was supposed to share a little something I gleaned from our time together. As I skimmed over my book reading my notes and highlighted quotes I landed on topics that him me hard, once again. The first being the factual statement, "Throughout the Old and New Testaments we find the idea that homes are places where souls are nourished and where God's ways are taught". What truth we see here. This lead my over caffeinated brain on a bunny trail of the use of a "HOME" in scripture. I started to wonder where and when I have seen God use the home as the setting to his story.
1: A PLACE OF REFUGE:
I first thought of the Jews finding protection within the walls of their homes during Passover in Egypt. Moses commanded the elders of Israel to paint the door frames of their homes with the blood of the passover lamb, then seek refuge inside the walls of their home. God used the homes of the Israelites to provide safety from "the destroyer" that memorable night. Just as God used homes as a place of refuge then, our homes should be a refuge now. Set apart by God, for Him. God can use any home in any location to be a shelter of protection. In the book of Joshua He chose the home of a prostitute to harbor his spies from their enemy, and in return for her obedience she was incorporated into the ancestry of Jesus Christ. All for opening her home!!!
What I glean from Rahab's story is that sometimes it is a sacrifice for us (as women) to open our homes to others, especially when they are in distress. In order for others to find healing or protection we have to place our selves in the position of being vulnerable, and that's just DIFFICULT. Period. When I see my friends who have opened their homes to foster children, to adoption, to family member's in need, or elderly parents/grandparents I see selflessness; I see sacrifice; I see difficulty; I see tears; I see pain; I see vulnerability... but beyond those things I see a greater JOY; I see a greater PEACE; I see a greater LOVE; I see a Greater GOD... Because when someone is seeking refuge, shelter, or protection and you open your home to them, you also open your heart.
2: A PLACE OF TEACHING:
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says, "4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."
God commands us to use the safety of our home as a place of teaching our children. Teaching things of eternal value; lessons not received from PBSKids, Netflix or Disney Jr. Not only are we to teach scripture as we see in this verse above, but also character. How to be a friend, how to listen, how to love our neighbor... starting with the one down the hall!!
When Jesus visited Mary and Martha, Mary sat at his feet and listened while Martha scurried around the house cleaning, cooking, piddle-ing her time away while the KING was near!! Jesus tell's Martha..To Stop. To Sit. To Listen. To Love him by SLOWING DOWN!!! (What a lesson I need to hear!!) As mothers we must remember this lesson that Jesus himself demonstrated, we must LEARN to stop, to sit, to listen, to love our families by SLOWING DOWN. We, too, can be caught in the kitchen mopping the floors at midnight or hidden under a mountain of laundry so high it reaches the shade of the floor lamp but neglecting to play babies with our little girls or giving piggyback rides to our little boys or taking time to listen to the hearts of our school aged children.
Our homes must be a place of teaching... to both our children and to ourselves. At times it is easy for me to accept the job as teacher, but it is difficult for me to submit to the role of student... Learning to live slowly, learning to love deeper, learning to listen intently... these things are difficult for me when I view my home as a place to clean and a place to work... but when I view my home as a place for teaching and for learning...It is an easier concept to accept.
3: A PLACE OF FRIENDSHIP
I want to live contrary to our society's lavish view of what the purpose of a home is. I want my home to be MORE than matching throw pillows and 3 inch crown molding. It is the desire of my heart to have a home with a heartbeat, with a soul, with smells of good food, and sounds of deep laughter. I want memories to be made of togetherness, of celebration, of friendship and of honoring others. Beyond the walls of my home must exist a spirit of togetherness, an atmosphere where people feel that they belong.
The kingship of Jesus was celebrated intimately in homes, surrounded by his disciples, by his friends and his family. Offerings were made to Jesus on a dusty living room floor as Mary broke the expensive vile of perfume and anointed the feet of King Jesus.
Jesus chose to spend his last moments on earth around a table with food, with wine, with friends... together. There was not one mention of the menu or of fancy decor, but instead of the people who were with him and the fellowship they shared. When his disciples asked him where he wanted to observe the passover, he instructed them to find a "house" in the city where they shall eat. Would my house be a home chosen by God for his son, the King of Kings to dine on his very last meal with friends?
4: A PLACE FOR MIRACLES AND SALVATION:
Speaking of Jesus inviting himself into homes... Did you know Jesus visited 29 homes throughout his 3 years of ministry? Did you know Jesus' first miracle was preformed INSIDE a home? Did you know Jesus raised 2 people from the dead inside of their homes? Yup, yup and yup...
Scriptures make it known that Jesus was very present inside the Jewish synagogue but rarely were his miracles preformed inside the walls of the place of worship. Instead he chose to make himself known inside homes, outside homes, in crowds of people and other times in the presence of a few. Our homes are more than 4 walls with rooms to pickup, carpets to vacuum, kitchen floors to sweep, bathrooms to clean... our homes are places where MIRACLES CAN HAPPEN!!! Where healing can occur, where people can be spiritually resurrected and eternity's solidified. Intimate quarters for intimate encounters.
Do you remember the song about Zacchaeus from your childhood, the one about a "wee little man" where Jesus shakes his finger at Zacchaeus and says, "I am coming to your house today." Basically, what I am saying is that Jesus had no manners, he invited himself inside homes on several occasions; probably because he knew his initiation was crucial. Our sinful nature desires for him to stay on the outside and to refuse to open the door, but when we answer that knock, salvation occurs. When Jesus looked up into the eyes of the frail dishonest tax collector, he knew his visit would result in salvation. In Luke 19:9-10 Jesus said to Zacchaeus, 9 “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Our homes are places not only where miracles happen, but also where salvation occurs. As a small girl I came to know my savior in my bedroom with my parents by my side. What an honor for my home to someday host the salvation of another. I pray this does become reality, whether the salvation of a friend or family member I pray that my home is a place of miracles and of salvation.
Donna Otto sums it up best in this quote, "You are called to create and maintain a home environment and atmosphere that reflects God's love, God's hope, God's peace--quite literally, to build your home on holy ground".
As I establish this new home that we now have, I use the above quote as my inspiration. Reminding myself that time and time again God used HOMES to tell his story, to protect his people, to bring salvation and to honor others, and I want my home to be worthy of this cause. The good news is that there is no square footage requirement, you do not need granite countertops or travertine tile, and your curtains don't have to be so many inches from the ceiling. If you don't have chalkboard paint or a repurposed pallet, you're NOT out of luck! If Rahab can be obedient enough to open up her home located within the walls of a city in the center of the red-light district, then I can too can use my home for his purpose!!
In reflection, because of this book my view of my HOME has transformed completely. I now realize that the purpose of my home is not one of beauty, but for beautiful people. I now realize my work inside my home is not one of monotonous chores but one of teaching and learning. I now realize that the safety I create inside of my home brings about miracles and salvation. When we look up from our pottery barn catalogues and our never ending Pinterest boards, and we find the ability to set our eyes on things above our perspective shifts, and our desires warp into those that are pleasing to Him.
Thanks for reading!!