An Open House and an Open Heart

As I prepare for my journey to “next”, a friend and I staged my beautiful little home for an open house. As we did, I was reminded that I’ve always strived toward an “open house”; a house ready for guests, for weary travelers and for hungry souls and tummies. I have opened my home to be the place where my kids’ friends hang out, my neighbors are proud to live next to and extra food in the freezer awaits impromptu meals with friends. Because no matter what your circumstance, you can be hospitable. You can freeze your leftover chili for an unexpected guest. You can make the most of whatever space God has granted to you for this moment in time.

I’m reminded of an old Keith Green song that states, “I don’t want your money, I want your life,” (which includes your money, by the way.) My proof of surrender doesn’t end after the offering plate goes by. It includes my property, my vehicle, and maybe most importantly, my time.

I come from parents who led an almost monastic life. And truth be told, I can lean toward hermit living from time to time. However, I must say that the greatest joy I’ve experienced is when I’ve shared all that I have. Open hands. Open house. Open heart.

Part of staging a home, requires encouraging the prospective buyer to imagine themselves in your home. As my friend and I told stories with furnishings, it was easy to remember precious moments in each cozy corner. It was also painfully easy to see how I could have done more and been more accommodating. I could have used the space I had for His glory in a greater way. But then I’m reminded that we go from glory to glory and faith to faith. I am growing in His likeness. His mercies are new every morning, so that I can share better and more in my “next”. I can’t wait to open the door to my house and my heart to all that awaits.

Your Greatest Accomplishment

I recently quit my dream job. A job so perfectly suited for me that it fit like a glove. A job where I had the privilege of affecting thousands of people by providing services to local churches and reaching out to neighbors in need. But alas, the small non-profit ran out of funds and could no longer support my salary as director. So, in the best interest of the organization, I resigned.

I’m moving out of my dream house. A house so perfectly crafted for me, it was like someone built it to my specifications. A house that I thoroughly believe that God provided. But alas, without steady work from my dream job, it is wise to sell. Perhaps more importantly, I feel the Good Shepherd leading me on.

On Monday, I had a few friends over to help me make a “work list” of things to be done before I put my home on the market. We ate lunch, talked about staging the house, our kids, our dreams and what Bible reading program we were using for the year. We talked about what books we are currently reading and how things are going on in our church families.

As I stood talking to the last guest, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “This was one of your greatest accomplishments.”

“What part of this?” my mind whispered back as my friend continued to tell me how work was going.

The answer was unexpected, because it wasn’t anything grand, or difficult. In fact, it was something that had come quite naturally to me without much effort. You see, my three friends are from different churches, backgrounds and have very different personalities. But we do have one thing in common. We all love Jesus. I hadn’t thought I was doing anything special or unique by inviting the three of them over, but our Father did. I believe that God, just like any parent, loves to see His kids getting along and loving Him together, side by side.

What pleases God most about us isn’t necessarily the most complicated or difficult things, or acts of great sacrifice and heroic deeds. Instead, they are the everyday, common things that come naturally to the unique personality He has give to each of us.

I didn’t hear God’s voice commend me for sacrificing my career for the good of the organization. (Although I know that it was the right thing to do.) I didn’t feel God pat me on the back for being willing to sell my house and move in order to follow His leading. (Although it’s been through tears that I have done so.) No, it was something much simpler than that. It was having three friends over for lunch that brought me the warmth of His pleasure.

God warns us not to call common what He calls cleansed and holy. (Acts 10:15) And maybe the key is in this: Where two or more of you are gathered in My Name, there I’ll be…

After all, what could be more uncommon that that? What could be more uncommon and holy than God sharing lunch with three ladies? How can where He is be a common place?

I may have felt really good about myself as an executive director of a small nonprofit. Finally, I was doing “big” things for God. Giving up my house might feel like a mini-Gethsemene, the best gift I could offer to God. But it wasn’t these hard things that God was whispering about. It was something far simpler.

I want to encourage you today, what you think is commonplace, God wants to make a holy altar. What you think is insignificant, God wants to make a sacred sanctuary. It’s not only in the grandiose, obvious acts that much is accomplished in the Kingdom. But it’s also in the everyday breathing, eating, drinking, sharing, laughing and living that His heart is warmed.