It’s the end of January…ALREADY!
While I maintain a full schedule and do spend time in the Word, it appears that God delights in speaking to me during my sleep! A couple of weeks ago, God gave me this musing loud and clear and He has continued to write it on my heart (in bold lettering) this week! I remember waking and suddenly sitting up in bed with a puzzled feeling.
PREPARATION “H?” I giggled! “Oh, this is a good one Lord!” So, as always, I’d like to turn this image into one with spiritual meaning and pray it speaks to your soul with great impact as it has (and is doing) mine. I pray that it will help relieve pain, emotional soreness, discomfort, and prompt that burning-itchy feeling to get things in order as we attempt to shrink many things in our lives.
As an overview of this blog, Preparation “H” asks the question: How is God calling us to prepare our Home, Health, Heart, Heirs, and Huddles for His Kingdom purposes. I think God has much to say, whether you read it here, or simply as you contemplate this question. So, it appears that this particular little blog title will become a series I will write as I share with you the things God is revealing to me. There is so much spinning in my heart and head to help us conquer each aspect with hope, scripture, and God-size resilience as we respond to His calling of preparedness.
Let me begin with Home.
It happens to almost all of us the first week of January! We feel the need to get our homes and lives in order. We put away Christmas decorations (well most of us – I’m still using my Christmas dishes!) and our new gifts. We remind ourselves that January is a great time to organize and re-organize and we might even begin that process. But why, really? Shouldn’t we always have that in the forefront of our thinking? Maybe some of you do, but my life is not wired that way. For me, the months from October through December are extremely chaotic with special events, meetings, and closing down the year. I race from thing to thing, slinging, tossing, and shuffling items from one room to another to make space for more things or for people who waltz in for a visit or a stay at my house. By January, I’ve misplaced everything! I HAVE to get re-organized! I cannot function and I get very out-of-sorts! This puts me into a funk, along with gloomy weather, and I think I’ll never pull out or see light at the end of the tunnel! But deep within, I know that it will be fine and I’ll soon see blue skies. January is typically very grey for me and my soul gets choked up. And when I look around at the overwhelming piles, and even the urge to re-decorate, it’s very easy for me to wanna leave town and not return! I have to remember this scripture verse and truly the only one who can help is The Lord.
Although my personality is free-spirited, I need organization for my soul to breathe. This is one way I resuscitate my soul. Order creates space! (Think about that sentence more deeply!) I have begun the process, remembering the principles that I have learned from Dave Ramsey about reducing the debt snowball. Start with the smallest thing! And so I did! I am no longer embarrassed to open the two small drawers in my buffet and phone table. They are all cleaned out and in order. I felt a great sense of accomplishment as I tossed things into the trash and found things I had forgotten. One by one, I move to the next little thing and then begin to chip away at the larger tasks. The garage has been looming and weighing heavy for years! It’s still a work in progress, but a little weight has lifted and things are rolling. It’s amazing that a little order helps to put a bounce back in my step and a smile on my face! Chaos and clutter continually work in harmony to drag me down, cramp my soul, and destroy my happiness. I struggle seasonally, according to my life schedule, with “sling and go.” I know this is no way to live and I’ve been convicted of it. Our God is a God of order and peace, not chaos. Nor is He the author of confusion.
Asking and looking more deeply into why God has impressed me to “prepare” my home, He reminded me of it’s purpose and gave me a whole plethora of important reasons including a “space of ministry” and a quiet place for just me. I feel our homes should be warm and welcoming, clutter-free (for the soul to breathe & to create), a safe place for conversations, and available at the drop of a hat! And, the Lord provided just that opportunity just this week – multiple times!
I felt a prompting from the Holy Spirit to prepare a luncheon and offer my home as a place of refuge and a much needed nurturing environment. I made the phone call at 9am and plans were made to meet at 11:30am. After I got off of the phone, I went into a small panic. I was still in my jammies, had no clue what I would fix to eat, had to straighten the downstairs, and when I opened the refrigerator, there was nothing with which to fix anything! It was a really rough week with a family tragedy and everything was dropped. I had to make a quick run to the store, but first I had (or wanted) to set a pretty table! Thank God He gave me a creative brain! It kicked into gear allowing me able to pull it off with a little bit of time to spare! My prepared home was just the right place for a ministry moment! Was there still a disorganized mess? Sure! I just found a place to stash it until I can get to it, but I didn’t want that to hinder me from disobeying the Spirit’s prompting. If I had had my act together, I wouldn’t have had to worry about clearing the space and wasted precious time. I could have used that time for other productive and meaningful means or praying for the gathering!
Why do we not ask more people to come into our homes?
Perhaps we feel “out of sorts!” I believe it’s because we are not prepared! We think our house needs to be pristine or maybe it doesn’t measure up to those of your friends. Shame on us! Shame on ME! We all live chaotic lives, in some form or fashion; especially if you have children that you shuttle from one event to another! Or, perhaps you feel like a bag lady, constantly moving from meeting to meeting, appointment to appointment, carrying lots of gear, and wearing many hats. Maybe you feel hospitality isn’t your gift. Have you ever stopped to think that it’s not really your house people come to see? It’s you! I’m sure it’s also the fellowship or encouragement you share…or need! I often say to new comers into my home, “You are welcome to stop in and see me anytime, but if you want to see my house, make an appointment!”
As I think about stories in the Bible, it appears that Jesus was always popping in on someone. Poor wife of Zacchaeus (if he was married!) You remember the story…
And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. Luke 19:5,6
Did you catch that? Received Him joyfully…and Jesus invited Himself!
Martha was welcoming…
“Now as they were traveling along, He (Jesus) entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.” Luke 10:38
This is the same Martha that rebuked her sister for not helping in the kitchen. Martha knew what she was doing when she invited them in!
What about Lydia…she promptly opened her home to Paul.
And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay” at my house. And she persuaded us. Acts 16:15
And there’s the Jailer in the Paul and Silas story…
“Then he brought them into his home and set a meal before them.” Acts 16:34
In all of these instances, who could know if preparations were made ahead of time for each of these guests? I don’t see in scripture where anyone had an issue of keeping people at bay because of clutter or untidiness. They seized the moment and had a real understanding of Koinonia fellowship. Whether a meal, a bed, or a brief time of visiting, they didn’t think twice. I want to offer my home and exercise “drop of the hat” hospitality.
When my life gets crazy busy and my surroundings begin to suffer from inattentiveness, I am less likely to pursue opportunities for fellowship or “ministry moments.” Before I know it, not only is my home in disarray but also my mind and heart. Isn’t it that way too with the home of our heart and our spiritual life? Jesus comes knocking and we feel embarrassed to let Him in or start making excuses why we haven’t gotten it all together. Maybe we slip into bitterness, depression, or selfishness and are ashamed to answer the knock and look upon His face. We can’t let the enemy of accusation and shame infiltrate our mind and soul. We will never have it “all together!” That’s why we need a Savior, and His name is Jesus!
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Is. 26:3
Preparing my home for others is more than an organized house! But an organized house helps set the stage!
How many times have you walked into someone’s home and you could just feel the peace? You wanted to linger there forever! I can just about promise you that it wasn’t just because everything was beautiful and orderly, donning calm hues, but because of the loving warmth that was showered upon you as you entered! Your gentle spirit and peace is reflected because there is rest and peace with God! That can only happen when there is total trust in Him…for all things! It is God who grants perfect peace. When there is unrest or chaos in my heart (sin), everything gets “off balance.” Recognizing when I’m unbalanced and remembering to keep my mind stayed on Jesus always dismantles my turmoil and disorganization within and without!
"Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4: 5-9
Notice that the peace of God guards us, and the God of peace is with us.
So let me leave you with this image. Apart from salvation, because He receives us just as we are, when Jesus comes calling, do you see yourself scrambling to straighten and pick things up before you let Him in? Or do you receive Him joyfully knowing that your "home" is ready, unhurried, and prepared for His arrival? He stands knocking. His fellowship is sweet. In what way is God calling you to prepare your home? A little "preparation H" for your quiet time and His presence will remove discomfort and relieve pain as we seek to shrink clutter in our heart and home!
Finding peace as I prepare my home,
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