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.
A Winter Gathering
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 and sometimes painful ones from years past, longings for loved ones who are not with us anymore, anticipation of time-tested traditions, reflections of gratitude to God for sending His Son, and through it all is 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…
- 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.
Next week, we will continue our discussion of “home” in part 2! Don’t miss it! 🙂
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