Two weeks ago, a friend asked if we could get together. So I invited her to my house for a late lunch and we scheduled it for this past weekend. In the ensuing days, my husband decided to start a project in our home that would leave dust on every single square inch of surface. The morning of our approaching lunch date, my daughter spilled a whole bowl of dry Cheerios on the floor. The ShopVac stood in the middle of the kitchen. The dirty dishes piled up higher than the dust. The drop cloths (designed to prevent the dust) was scattered abroad. But I was gone all morning and had no time to remedy the problem. I walked out the door to help my sister with her first cleaning job, and walked back in the door 4 minutes before my friend arrived. I had no makeup on– and a sightly pimple on my left cheek. I was wearing sweaty workout clothes, and I probably had a subliminal stink about me. I was self-conscious about my appearance, about my house, about my level of exhaustion. I didn’t feel like I was “mothering” well that day.
But this was my life. And I couldn’t cancel. She had been gracious enough to come an hour later, when my job with my sister ran over. She walked in, graciously fed my child and swept up the Cheerios; never commented on my unkemptness. I made us salad and grilled cheese, and although it took a while to prepare, we talked about life and the things that are bringing us joy and the things that are bringing us grief. Before she left, I asked if I could pray with her, for the burdens on her heart. For the kids, and the school, and the stressed-out husband, for the lack of direction spiritually, for a church to feel like home to her. For Jesus to come and fill in the gaps.
And when she left, she looked around at the mess one last time and said, “Your home is so…. peaceful. It feels like Jesus lives here.” I couldn’t have been more stunned. Scripture flew to my mind, from years past. We had been newly married, and renting an 1180 square-foot house that my grandaddy had built half a century prior. It was perfect for us, but quite small compared to the majestic brand-new homes of our friends, with mountain-range roof lines, crown molding, and 30-year-mortgages. I desired to host women and Bible studies in my home, but I didn’t have a large space or what I felt to be a welcoming gathering place. Yet my desire persisted, and so we crammed in like sardines and opened our Bibles. And Jesus met us there.
One night, after Bible study, I sat down to read in 1 Kings 8-9, where Solomon dedicated the Temple to the Lord. “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built! Yet have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea, O Lord my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you this day, that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place (1 Kings 8:27-29.) Tears began to form and roll down my cheeks.
And I was floored when I read verse 3: “And the LORD said to him, ‘I have heard your prayer and your plea, which you have made before me. I have consecrated this house that you have built, by putting my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time‘” (1 Kings 9:3, emphasis mine). To think that Jesus would reside in my lowly abode, and use my home as a habitation for Himself? That He would hear the worship and petitions made here? That His eyes would reside here, seeing the mess, yet seeing through to the heart? That He wouldn’t flee when the dust kicked up and the dishes embarrassed Him and the dirty diapers fumigated the place? Could He? Would He? This became the prayer of my heart for the years to come, not knowing that we would eventually purchase this house and property, make it ours, and keep it in our family for yet another generation.
And that’s when I realized… my friend wasn’t here to be wowed with magazine images of perfection, or for a chef-worthy meal, or even a well-manicured friend that she could sit across from and envy. She may have come for lunch and fellowship, but what she really came for was more of Jesus.
Isn’t that what we’re all really after? Isn’t that what we’re really searching for in all of our pursuits? We think we are after clean houses and Joanna Gaines’ new Target line and Paula Dean cookware and buy-one-get-one deals at Publix.
But deep down, we have a void that only Jesus can fill. We need someone to point us to that Someone to give us the thing our heart craves. More than a grilled cheese, we need the Bread of Life. More than good friends, we need the Friend Who sticks closer than a brother. More than clipping coupons and saving money, we need to be saved from ourselves; we need a Savior. More than beautiful homes, we long for heaven. Because, after all, home is a Person. All that we crave is simply pointing us to the only One Who can satisfy. Jesus… He is what we are really after.