Tuesday, May 22

"...quite a different house"

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that does not make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of--throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it himself."
 --C.S. Lewis

If there is one thing the Father has been trying to speak to me lately, it is that I need to clear out "my house" (a.k.a. my heart). After all, it is His dwelling place in my life and I've been trying to give Him roommates, so to speak.

Lately, there are so many things that I've been letting consume my thoughts and my heart. I think the biggest thing that I've been longing for is a house to call our own. I think it's safe to say that I'm a "nester". Give me an empty space and I will thrive as I try to come up with some ideas to make it come alive.

Ironically enough, every time I begin to moan and groan over not having our own house to make into a home, I hear the Father whisper, "What about my home? Are you putting as much thought into taking care of my dwelling place as you are a temporary place you don't even have yet? Do you not trust that I have those details already worked out for you?"

As much as I wanted to ignore those whispers, the Father continued to reveal His Word to me over and over again. One morning, as I was reading through 1 Samuel, this passage jumped out to me:
"Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him." (1 Samuel 5:2-4)
I, like the Philistines, think that I can let other idols dwell with the presence of the Father in my heart. And then when the Father won't have it, and pushes them out, I put them right back into their place. It's as if I were saying, "Lord, you're going to get along with these idols in my heart and you're going to like it!" Woe is me...

After I tried to ignore that red flag, the Father brought it to my attention again only a couple of chapters later:
"And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, "If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines." (1 Samuel 7:3)
Again with the foreign gods?! Were the desires of my heart becoming obsessions? Was I really desiring those things so much that it was causing me to desire the Father less? One thing was certain: if I was going to return to Him with all my heart, I needed to drop those obsessions and reserve that room in my heart for the Father, and Him alone. The promise that comes with that obedience is that He will take care of the things that I'm letting go of.

The Father spoke to me once more this morning and I finally felt like a peace came over me. I kept hearing Him say "drop the other lovers". Those words sounded so familiar. I tried to think of where I had heard those words before and then I remembered....Gomer (lovely name, isn't it?):
"She said, 'I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.' Therefore I will block her path with thorn bushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, 'I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.' She has not acknowledge that I was the one who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold..." (Hosea 2: 5-8)
The book of Hosea is a beautiful picture of redemption. Hosea has an unfaithful wife, Gomer, who pursues other lovers. When those other lovers don't satisfy her, she decides she'll go back to Hosea. Little did she know or realize, her husband provided her with all of those nice things. Here are a few things I was reminded of (yes, the Father has had to teach me this lesson more than once...):

  1. I, like Gomer, am pursuing other lovers.
  2. The Father blocks my paths. Not because He is mean and hateful but because He is loving and gracious and is keeping me from making such a mess of things. I'm looking for 'better' when He has 'the best' in mind.
  3. God is the ONE. He has given me all that I have had, have now, and will have in the future. He has been, is, and always will be. He continues to hold up His end of the covenant despite my constant failings. When the Father could say, "I give up on her," He instead says, "Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her (verse 14)."
So, here I am, in the wilderness, finally ready to listen to the Father's tender words. I've put away the idols. I've dropped the other lovers. I've cleaned out my heart of all those things so that the Father can build "quite a different house". He deserves nothing less than my life, my soul, and my heart to be totally devoted to him.

For more "Greener Grass Devotionals" click here. For an explanation of the name, click here!

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