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God's Dwelling Place

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” Acts 17:24-28

When I lived in Japan in 2006 and 2007, my home was a teensyweensy apartment in a beautifulneighborhood called Motomachi. I lived on the third and top floor of an apartment block known as “Joy” (Yes, for some reason it had an English name). During the course of my time in The Land of the Rising Sun, my Joy “mansion” (as apartments are called there) went through some majoroverhaul and taught me some valuable lessons. Let me explain ……

My predecessor had kindly left furniture and other little odds and ends in my “mansion” so that I would not have to fork out huge sums of move-in capital. However, I soon grew frustrated with them because they made my room look like a mismatch disaster; not to mention, the drawers in my cupboard were so long that the doors couldn’t close. I was so frustrated!

I used to lie on my bed chatting with God about this and that, and without even realizing it, my eyes would start sweeping the room, and my thoughts would trail off into, “Lord, what can I do about this room? It’s not the way I want it to be! I’m truly grateful that you provided this place for me, but I am so frustrated!”

My dream was to fix up my place so that I could entertain friends in a more comfortable milieu, but I didn’t know how to even begin to make improvements. Well, God was kind enough to make my dreams come true through fellow church-goers, Marsha and Sabrina—two huge fans of Home and Garden TV. I sent them digital photos of my room, and in turn they gave me different bits of advice: use baskets to clear the clutter, get some plants and framed pictures to make things homey, re-arrange some of the furniture to create more space. More specifically, they told me to change the position of my bed and turn my tall bookcase on its side to make things roomier.

I followed most of their advice, and with the help of my Japanese friend, Hisako, I hit a couple of stores and bought everything I needed—new beautiful pink curtains, lovely dishes, a white rug, and a few other things. I also put up a wall scroll which I had bought a few months before. It had a little pouch for fresh flowers, which was just perfect. I had long relished the idea of having fresh flowers in my little studio.

When my apartment was fully touched up, I invited my neighbors, Eric and Crystal, to come see. I had always eyed Eric’s apartment with something that neared (but didn’t quite reach) envy (I was always careful to guard my heart), because his predecessor had had a wonderful sense of style and his “mansion” was truly tastefully done. Well, my first visitors simply loved my new home, knowing the state it had been in before.

I too was delighted with the transformation, and reflected on how different parts of this process could teach us about our spiritual life.

House Metaphors

Clutter – We need to clear anything that would mute God’s voice—like people’s misguided opinions of who we are or our self-generated values.

Moving Around Furniture – By changing an attitude here and moving things around in our heart, we can create more space for God. For example, if we are a tall bookcase of intellectual pride, then we need to step into the same humility of the great God who stoops down to make us great.

Exchanging Things – One way I got rid of clutter was to exchange some of my belongings with Eric. We can learn from each other as we emulate and “exchange” admirable qualities that remind us of God.

Plants – When we plant the seed of God’s Word in our hearts, good soil will produce abundant fruit. We need to be joyful and diligent doers of His Word. We need to water our relationship with God with transparency, obedience, worship, and time spent musing upon the Word.

Framed Photos – God wants us to grace our home with “family” photos—images of those who have left a legacy of faith and courage in and through God. These should line the walls of our heart.

Constant Cleaning – My mother would be proud of me; I loved my apartment so much that every little bit of dust or paper sent me running for the vacuum. I wanted my home perfectly clean! Especially when it comes to our hearts, God wants a complete top-tobottom cleaning job.

The White Rug – I bought a white kiddies rug because it was small enough to fit my space and also not as expensive as the adult versions. It looked really beautiful in the middle of my floor. God wants us to be childlike in our faith so that we can “enter the Kingdom.” He also wants us to be clothed in garments that are white with His righteousness.

Times of Re-Modeling – God might sometimes change around things which look perfectly fine, just to create another new look that is just as beautiful yet in many ways an improvement on previous décor. We need to embrace the new and throw out what has become irrelevant, so that when He brings a new bottle of wine to dinner, we don’t make a face and ask what happened to the first Chardonnay.

Guests Welcome – The joy of having a home is in sharing it with all kinds of guests—friends, strangers, family. Of course, the most important guest is Jesus Himself, who says that He knocks on the door of our hearts and dines with those who let Him in.

Home Sweet Home – When we have a home that is swept clean by His principles, beautifully decorated with godly wisdom, and graced with Kingdom-display interest pieces, God will shine His warm sunshine through the curtains of our heart and light up our mansion. Then He’ll sigh in contentment and say, “Now this feels like home! I like being here!”

God’s kindness made Joy Apartment a perfect home. I was incredibly grateful and truly delighted with what God designed for me. God has a special plan for each one of us, and if we go with His flow and let Him, as our Interior Design Project Manager, do “His thing,” we’ll find that our lives become a dwelling place for God. And our home will become a place of refreshing for the guests who come over to enjoy our company. God definitely knows what He’s doing, so we can trust Him! In the end, we can joyfully throw open the front door and warmly welcome our faithful Friend and Father.

(Nneka Edwards is a Caribbean writer who grew up in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. She has a special love for East Asia and has lived in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. She holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies and a Masters in International Cooperation.This article features on “Joie de Lens”- a soulrefreshing blog with inspiring images and writing, created by Nneka. You can dip into these oasis springs at http://www.joiedelens.blogspot.com)

Article Link: http://ccmusa.org/read/read.aspx?id=chg20110103
To reuse online, please credit Challenger, Jan-Mar 2011. CCMUSA.