Friday, May 29, 2015

Mansions in Heaven

We are in the process of buying a new house. It's a very exciting time for our family since we've spent the past 7 years or so living the "tent life"- moving freely from place to place as God would lead us. We've just been renting as we go, so I haven't found it worth the time or money to invest in much home decor, furniture, paint, etc. Though on the outside the homes we have lived in haven't been that big, or fancy, or elaborately decorated, the heart of our home has been alive, vibrant and joyful. Without focusing on the outside, we were able to spend time cultivating what really matters- quality time as a family, enjoying each other, opening our home to those that need it, and spending time in prayer to invoke the Spirit of God into our home and our lives.
With the advent of buying this new house comes a lot of planning and decision making about different ways we can improve and beautify things. I have literally spent hours on Pinterest trying to choose just the right paint color, determine the most efficient way to lay out our furniture, and so on. If I can create this "perfect house", the world tells me, I will be happy, at peace, and able to enjoy life to the fullest. There are actually hundreds of blogs talking about paint colors that relieve stress and help you relax! Needless to say, I've put a lot of pressure on myself and spent endless hours investing in this new home...a home that is by no means my permanet residence, nor is it my key to happiness.
All of this effort has taken my eyes off my true purpose, and even the reason we are buying the house in the first place. Ephesians 2:10 tells us, "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them". Anything that nudges us away from this purpose of ours will leave us feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled. We are simply not wired to be satisfied with temporary and earthly things. One of my favorite parts of the Orthodox Liturgy pleads, "and we too who are sojourners in this place, keep us in your faith, and grant us your peace unto the end". Soujourners- strangers- visitors.
My efforts to beautify this home should not be simply to create a comfortable place for my family and I to live. I have to continually keep in mind that as just a visitor on this earth, I should spend more time investing in the things that will last eternally. Creating a haven that will prompt my family to pray and be filled in order to be equipped for the good works that God has prepared for us. Creating a space that will be open for God's service and carving out time to pray in order for our home to be filled with His presence and His Spirit. All of these things that cannot be done when my mind and efforts are focused on the things of this temporary world. I learned a powerful lesson from great friends of ours. Even though they were able to afford an enormous house that was lavishly decorated, our friends intentionally chose to buy a beautiful home that was just the perfect size- not too big and not too small. This purchase surprised some family and friends of theirs who couldn't understand why they didn't buy a huge, elaborate house if they had the money to afford it. After discussing the issue with them one day over dinner, the husband sent us an email later that night with a picture similar to the one below:
You see, he told us that one day they actually will have a huge house- a mansion to be exact. One day, they will have a house that is so lavishly decorated that one would not be able to describe it in words. But this home will not be here on earth. How powerful that message was for us and how great was their example. Yes, the world will tell us to buy bigger, and more, and to spend a lot of money and effort on our temporary homes, though all of it is in vain as Solomon said, "vanity of vanities, all is vanity". Christ makes a great promise to us and says, "In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). I pray that God would give us the grace to invest- not in this earthly house of ours- but in our true Home that He is preparing for us.

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