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Several years ago, when I was in the abyss of marriage and family problems, I cried out to God for guidance. It was a while before the answer came, but when it did, a newfound hope filled me.
The instructions were simple: fix up your home and your temple, your body.
Swimming several days per week helped bring balance, as well as expend some of my grief and frustration. My body grew stronger, my mind quieted and in that quiet God could speak to me about all the circumstances that troubled my heart.
As for the house, amid the many problems, it hadn’t seen much attention either. Room by room, I began de-cluttering, organizing, and painting, then bought a few pieces of upstyled furniture. What resulted was a home where we could find solace and re-connection; a sanctuary where fractured hearts and relationships could heal.
As I continued to surrender to His gentle leading, He surprised me by asking me to open my home as a house church. At first, I was reluctant. My family was still hurting, and my husband and I were not on the same page spiritually in many ways. But God assured me this was His will. I would have the churches while my husband was travelling. Those who came would find a refuge in a home built by God. And, my husband would feel the prayers and presence of God where he was working.
As I focused on the way these gatherings could bless others, I didn’t expect how they would profoundly affect the atmosphere of our home. Even unbelieving friends would often comment about the peace they felt. And when my husband came home from weeks away on business, instead of tension and strife, he remarked how peaceful and relaxing our home was.
I have learned (and am learning) to pray fervently in regard to our home, and to pray a hedge of protection around it and all who enter. I ask God to emit His light from our windows and give passers-by the sense that it is safe to knock on our door. One of the most powerful prayers I’ve read is “How to Change the Spiritual Atmosphere in Our Homes.”
As Christmas approaches it often amplifies mankind’s search for a place of belonging, a place to call home. Even when our families have problems, as most do, there is still often a desire to connect, to heal and redeem what is broken. It is part of longing for an eternity where fellowship never ends.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says:
…He has also set eternity in the human heart…
For many years I have pondered this longing for home, especially our forever home of Heaven. I have always attributed the feeling of incompleteness on Christmas Day, the sense that something has been left undone, to knowing this is not my forever home. Then the Holy Spirit whispered this scripture to my heart:
But when you give a banquet, invite the poor the crippled, the lame, the blind and you will be blessed. Luke 14: 12-14
Could this apply to Christmas Day?
I would say most of us finish our charity work before the 25th and consider Christmas Day to be a time of rest and celebration shared with our own families. And there’s nothing wrong with that. God is all about family. But when we draw an unseen line in the sand between those we help and serve, and those we call family, are we truly representing God’s Kingdom here on earth?
When God builds the house, whether bone and sinew or brick and mortar, His unseen Kingdom becomes seen. So now I wonder, could the longing in our hearts be God’s desire to see His family table in the here and now? An invitation to open our door to the stranger, to the lame, the poor – the lonely- on Christmas Day? God promises a blessing if we do.
All those years I prayed for my marriage and my family, struggling to overcome sadness and confusion, could the invitation to the solitary neighbor - who doesn’t even like me – be part of the reason for the joy I have now? Could opening my home to those who have blindly hurt me be why my husband is falling in love with me again? Or the alcoholic hung over at the bus stop, who barely speaks above a whisper he’s so smothered in shame, could giving him a ride to town be part of the sturdy foundation our home is being built upon? And is God asking for His rightful place at the table, through these people, at my Christmas dinner? The idea certainly fills my heart with excitement.
What about you? Has something been missing from your Christmas celebrations? Could it be, you too, are being led to invite the poor, the lame and the blind?
Yes, it will be uncomfortable, perhaps. Even a little messy. But I believe it is will be worth it. And, maybe this is the invitation to experience eternity our longing hearts have been waiting for.
A Little More about Nicole
I'm am American wife and homeschooling Mama living in Northern Ireland. I've written on array of subjects for Christianity Today, Belfast Telegraph, OmaghToday and have read my essays on the radio. Last year I felt led to begin blogging on Facebook and boosting my posts reaching tens of thousands. Its been a wonderful (and sometimes rough!) experience sharing my personal story and testimony of Jesus with believers and nonbelievers.