Home, a haven, a respite from the cold cruel world; it is my God - given space on this planet to create beauty, to fill with "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute" (Philippians 4:7-9). Whether it is an apartment or a mansion, old or new, citified or countrified, near or far, fixer upper or fixed up, I can give God glory by bringing order to chaos and beauty to the ordinary. I can invite God's presence into every nook and cranny of my assigned abode.
What might such a haven look like? I believe the process of creating and enjoying such a place begins with prayer and a desire to bless all who come within. "Lord, whether those entering be family, friends, or strangers may they be welcomed with a warm embrace, a steaming or iced drink (depending on the season), a smile, eye contact, inquiring questions, a listening ear, something yummy to share at the table, lovely music, a candle lit and the gift of undivided attention whenever possible. Make me and my home an instrument of your peace,"
It is important to have a vision and an ideal of what we want our home to be and what we would like it to embody, for ourselves as well as for those who enter. These ideals will look different for each of us. Some prefer antiques and some enjoy a modern style, some love the bustle of city life, while some thrive in the quiet of the countryside. Families have varying rhythms, interests, and schedules and these change with the seasons of life. The reality of ideals will never be perfect; they are just a starting point and compass. Nevertheless, beneath the tangible trappings of home lies the heart of the habitation. The WHY, if you will... and I believe those who enter sense the WHY underneath the trappings.
WHY do I fill my home with flowers from the garden, lovely music, yummy snacks and good food? WHY do I attempt to keep things clean and orderly? WHY extend hospitality? WHY have art and Scripture adorn the walls? WHY bring out games or marshmallows to roast? As God's ambassador in this hectic and often frightening world, it is my privilege to create a place where those who enter sense His presence and feel His peace, surrounded by things of this world that ARE true, honorable, and lovely.
Through my home I can point others to the Savior and make memories which will last a lifetime! By serving others when they enter, showing interest in their lives, praying for them over a meal, and putting aside the busyness of life to focus on them, I can be the hands and feet of Christ to those who step in my door. I can slow down the pace of life for a few hours or days with no other agenda than to bless, listen to, laugh with, and pray for those within. This can be as simple as a visit over a cup of coffee on the porch or roasting marshmallows around a fire pit.
Home can also be a place to celebrate others and God. In Luke 15, Jesus tells a parable of a man who, after losing one of his sheep, searches for and finds it. "And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'" (Luke 15:6) It is not hard to come up with reasons to celebrate... of course there are birthdays, new babies, and weddings, but there is always the reason, WE ARE TOGETHER, let's celebrate God's goodness and what He is doing in the lives here represented. Celebrating can be china-fancy or it can be paper plate-casual; don't let the trappings trip you up!
Home can also be a place to share God's love and a sense of belonging with those who are lonely. I have heard that even in the midst of our culture's obsession with online "connections", our society is plagued with loneliness. God has a heart for the lonely and can use our homes to bless and minister to the lonely. Psalm 68:6 tells us, "God makes a home for the lonely..." May my home be such a place and may I watch for and invite in those who may be lonely.
I love what Jesus said in Mark 5 to the man he had healed from demon - possession who wanted to follow him; "Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you" (Mark 5:19).
May we do the same, especially as the holidays approach. May we view our home as a place to bless others and to share the gift of God's presence with all who enter our doors. May even those who are not open to the Lord at this time be blessed by the sense of His love and presence as they enter our door! To God be the glory!
"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in EVERY PLACE" (2 Corinthians 2:14).