By: Jenni Walker
“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For the love of Christ compels us…and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:1, 14-15)
“God’s thoughts, His will, His love, His judgments are all man’s home. To think His thoughts, to choose His will, to love His loves, to judge His judgments, and thus to know that He is in us, is to be at home.” (George MacDonald)
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“Why does anyone live there?!”
I was born and raised in Minnesota. Throughout my adult life as a resident of Oklahoma, I have frequently heard this phrase asked with incredulity and a bit of awe. Why would anyone choose to live in a place that is so snowy and frigidly cold? they wonder. Typically, I have laughed off this question with delight and an appreciation of warm winter coats and armies of snow plows that are all necessities of a Minnesota life.
But this Christmas season, I lived the reality of that question in a fresh way. My husband and I were up north visiting my family for the holiday season. The Christmas carol line of “folks dressed up like eskimos…” could be sung about every person we encountered (myself included!) as we ran around town with our breath hanging frozen in the air like clouds swirling around us. This line of the Christmas song is always a reality at this time of year, but even more so this recent Christmas with below-zero temperatures and cautionary tales of leaving skin exposed to the elements.
Why would people live in such a frozen tundra? How do people endure the long winters? The answer lies in the iconic phrase from The Wizard of Oz: There is no place like home.
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Several relatives from Fargo, North Dakota arrived at my parents’ Minnesota home a few days before new year’s eve. Upon my uncle’s arrival, we quickly began chatting about the weather. “The temperature is only a high of -4 degrees tomorrow!” I exclaimed, to which he replied, “It is supposed to get to -30 degrees in Fargo tomorrow!” I couldn’t top that, and indeed, the same question I had heard so often entered my own head: Why does anyone live there?!
Again, the answer for many people is simple: There is no place like home. People do not stay because of the skin-numbing cold temperatures. (Although even this kind of cold has never stopped Minnesotans from playing outdoor ice hockey, from sledding at the local park, or from window shopping in the downtown streets of St. Paul!) They stay because of the people, the opportunities, the way of life, the memories that have been and that are yet to be. And like myself, even if they move out-of-state, they visit frequently to make more memories, to be with those they love, and to brave the wintery elements together!
This recent holiday season, I took time to reflect about how home can produce a multitude of emotions. There are joyful memories from years past, longing for loved ones who are not with us anymore, anticipation of time-tested traditions, and a very real sense of “coming home.”
God has put this desire to “come home” in each one of us. There truly is no place like home. And yet, there are many statistics floating around at this time of year about people feeling a sense of depression or just being “down in the dumps.” Why is this?
Home for each individual holds a slightly different expectation. It fills us and yet also stirs in us a longing for something more. For those who do not yet know Jesus, this stirring can produce an acute sense of emptiness. For those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, this sense of longing is something we know to be a longing for our eternal home, one in which we are truly with Jesus. Jesus is “Immanuel, God with us.” This world also is not our final destination, and our approach toward the concept of home during our time here on earth should reflect that. But does this mean that our physical homes are unimportant? That songs such as “I’ll be home for Christmas” should be sung with tempered gusto? What is a God-honoring perspective about home supposed to look like?
As we embark on a new year, many of your resolutions, aspirations, and goals may be related to the concept of home: keep the house cleaner, stay in your weekly budget so you can save enough to get the kitchen remodeled, host a dinner party once a month, have your devotion time in a consistent place of the house each morning, be more understanding of your spouse, spend more time together as a family, actually use the treadmill that is in the basement, update the front yard landscape, or make healthier meals for your family. There are God-given reasons that so many of our hopes and goals connect directly to the home. As the holiday season comes to a close and a new year is before us, let’s take a look together at three proactive attitudes that we should cultivate to give us the clear insight and perspective that God wants us to have about HIS purpose and design for home…
1) Make your home.
I love HGTV shows like Fixer Upper and Home Town! These are two shows that don’t just emphasize the look of the house but even more so the people who will inhabit those homes. The homes are designed in such a way as to express the beauty of their family lives: laundry rooms and offices are designed with functional organization in mind; master suites are planned out down to the minute detail so as to provide a retreat for the married couples of the home; and attractive kitchen islands are installed to bring the family together.
Whether or not updated furniture or a new kitchen island is in your future, our homes are places that should constantly be in a design process. I am not just talking about outward appearance or how organized your home is, although those can most definitely contribute to a sense of peace and purpose. But most importantly, our homes ought to be places that stem from a beautiful heart that is inhabited by Jesus Christ. Every part of our home lives are to be “designed” around that!
And, ladies, this starts with us! Yes, husbands are called by God to leadership in the home, but women are the ones who are shown in the Bible to be the caretakers of the home in the day-in, day-out and the gnitty-gritty. The Bible shows us that it is the woman’s responsibility to “make the home” and to tend her household; this is more than mere duty or drudgery but a holy calling that can bear fruit for the kingdom of God! Consider the Proverbs 31 woman:
She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household. (v. 15)
She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet. (v. 21)
She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. (v. 27)
Her home is well-tended, and all of her actions and motivations stem from her fear of the Lord: Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates. (v. 30-31)
Be a homemaker, and make your home a place of holiness that is consecrated to the Lord. Whether you are single, married, work outside the home, or are a stay-at-home mom, this is something that we are all called to. In the look, the routine, the relational dynamics, and the organization of your home, know your purpose and begin with a surrendered heart! Give your home heart, because home is where the heart is! Don’t strive for perfection, but foster and cultivate joy, peace, holiness, and welcoming to the glory of God. Seek His wisdom, and ask HIM for fresh ideas as to where to begin this year in honoring Him and bearing kingdom fruit as a homemaker.
2) Remember your home.
“This life helps prepare us for the glory of the heavenly kingdom…here on earth we may have a foretaste of the divine kindness, so that our hope and longing may be kindled for the full revelation of it.” (John Calvin)
This world is not our final destination. Right now, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and He has made a residence in our hearts. But one day, we will be with Him for eternity. He has prepared a place for us, and we will finally and truly be “home” when we see Him face-to-face! (Revelation 22:4)
But while we are here on this earth, we can gain a foretaste of the next world. Oftentimes, the holidays produce in us a beautiful nostalgia. But there is also a longing that gets stirred in us that we may not quite be able to put our finger on. What is this longing that we feel when the family is gathered cozily with pie and coffee in the living room, the Christmas tree is lit, candles on the fireplace mantel are flickering, and Bing Crosby is crooning “White Christmas” in the background? I believe that at the holidays, home for many of us gives us a foretaste of the life to come: our eternal home.
Jesus said to His disciples in John 14:1-3, shortly before His crucifixion, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
The last several chapters in the book of Revelation describe what it will be like when we are finally with the Lord. It will be the “full revelation” of the divine kindness that we have had a taste of in this world. It will also be a time when “God will wipe away every tear” from our eyes, and there will be “no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, and there will be no more pain.” (Revelation 21:4)
This world is not our final destination, so let’s choose to consciously be in remembrance of our eternal home! We are called as Christians to look at what is unseen, but this will work in us a deeper longing for our “habitation which is from heaven.” (2 Corinthians 5:2) We will get to BE with Him! (2 Corinthians 5:8) The more we grow in our spiritual-mindedness, with our eyes fixed upon Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2), the more our awareness of eternity will be stirred in us where will be “always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
3) Invite others home.
When we have cultivated a God-honoring attitude of intentionally making our home and of remembering our eternal home, the third attitude will come naturally: That of inviting others home. This is the most action-oriented of the three “home” attitudes God wants to foster in us, and it is two-fold:
- In Romans 12:13, we are commanded as followers of Jesus Christ to distribute to the needs of the saints (our fellow brothers and sisters in the body of Christ) and to be “given to hospitality.” The word given in this verse means literally pursuing hospitality. Make your home a place of hospitality where all who enter experience the light and love of Jesus! You can do this for your family members, neighbor children, friends and loved ones, a small group, a missionary family, etc. Home is one of the ways God designed for believers to minister to one another!
- Secondly, knowing that we have an eternal home with Jesus should compel us to tell others, too! When we live spiritually-minded with the ever-growing understanding that this world is not our home, our longing for the Lord will intensify and our sense of urgency to share the transforming truth of the Gospel will, too! (Click here to read one of our posts from last year about “Living Daily with an Eternal Perspective”! It gives a ton of practical ideas to put the Great Commission into action as we embark on a new year: https://wholeheartedwoman.live/2017/05/04/living-daily-with-an-eternal-perspective-part-2-compelled-by-the-great-commission/)
Habits of Home
With the Christmas season once again behind us and a new year ahead of us, seek the Lord about HIS design for home in your life. As we close, prayerfully consider some of the following questions:
- Make your home: Is there an area that needs God’s truth and wisdom as you “make your home” to His glory? Does a “keeping up with the Joneses” attitude motivate you, or does a desire to bless others? Does your family truly feel “at home” in your residence? Why is this so important, both on a practical and spiritual level?
- Remember your home: Do you frequently consider that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21)? Do you live with an awareness that for Christians, death is just a gateway to eternal life with Jesus? That He is preparing a place for us? This does not mean that we do not tend to the affairs of this life – God is in the details and wants us to do whatever we do with an attitude of excellence as we “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17). Yet, why is it so important to live with an awareness of eternity? How can you become more spiritually-minded? How will this affect your day-to-day attitudes and actions?
- Invite others home: Who does God want you to invite into your home this year? How can your physical residence become a place for spiritually-minded fellowship with other believers? Or a place of powerful prayer that extends beyond the walls of your home and has repercussions that God uses to reach into eternity? Secondly, how can you live with even greater intention this year as an ambassador for Christ? Our goal is not just to make life better for others while they are here. We MUST tell them about everlasting life through salvation through Jesus Christ! A few quick ideas: Prayer calendar for international missions endeavors; showing the love of Jesus at a local soup kitchen; a short-term mission trip as a family; host a meal for a missionary family who spoke at your church and learn from their experiences; invite an unsaved relative to church; guide your children in being spiritually-minded in their friendships, helping them to pray for the salvation of their friends and to be a verbal witness, too (inviting friends to church, hosting a neighborhood “Good News Club,” etc.); visiting a nursing home with your children and having them distribute hand-made pictures or cards to the residents with notes of encouragement such as “Jesus loves you and so do we!” Use that creative mind that God has given you, and do SOMETHING for the sake of the gospel. Start somewhere, put it into action, and just see what God does. People are searching whether they realize it or not, and you are a tool in God’s hands to invite people HOME!
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