We gathered at my mother’s house yesterday to celebrate. She has a very small home that when filled with her five children, in-laws, and grandchildren becomes a chaotic, beautiful mess. Conversations overlap, laughter is a constant echo, and the smallest children become the center of attention as they lay the obstacle course of toys among our feet. This brood of individuals blends into one body, a family where love is a solid and sure foundation beneath us. We are comfortable there and this brings great delight to my Mom.
While my mother enjoys attending to her loves, there is an expectation that we will make ourselves at home in her house. If we want something to eat, we are completely free to search the refrigerator or brave the pantry in hopes of satisfying our desires. If we want to spend our time there in lengthy conversation or silently enjoying time with her, it doesn’t matter. If we want to attempt a nap (challenging, as her bedroom is a loft, impossible to make silent if anyone else is in the house), we are still free to stretch out and rest whenever we want. Our friends are welcomed warmly should they be with us and offered the same opportunity to make themselves at home.
While knowing that we have these wonderful freedoms, my mother is still respected as The Mom. It is her home and we’ve been groomed from childhood to know what is acceptable to her and what is not. We would not dream of crossing her threshold demanding our own way because the world outside says we can. Dare we try, the atmosphere of her home would change. Love would not be shaken as a sure foundation, but we would no longer be comfortable and we wouldn’t feel “at home”.
Discovering the love God has for me was life-changing. Finding this wonderful intimacy with the Father has brought relief from burdens carried for many years. Learning to be comfortable in His presence has brought a rest to my soul I never imagined was possible. I so deeply enjoy this constant relationship with Him where I am relaxed and at ease. His love for me is truly a solid and sure foundation. He delights when I make myself at home with Him.
I am free to ask Him anything. I can ask Him for my needs. I can ask Him for my wants. I can be still with Him in silence, or I can chatter away about anything that is on my mind. I can ask Him the hard questions without fear of reprimand when I am struggling in an area of faith. I can entertain the thoughts about Him that take me out of my religious comfort zone knowing that it doesn’t trouble Him at all. He is able to keep me grounded as we talk about all I am learning.
Yet while having this freedom to know Him as “Friend”, I must never forget that He is God. King of kings and Lord of lords, He is deserving of and due my utmost respect. He has groomed me through His word to know what is acceptable to Him, and living in this relationship with proper respect is where I find my true comfort as His child. The times I have dared to insist on my own way because it was acceptable to the world, were the times I felt the grief of His Spirit within me and that is a most uncomfortable feeling. I couldn’t relax in His presence though His love for me remained unwavering. I no longer felt “at home”.
I believe John had a special insight into this love Jesus had brought to them. It makes me smile that he often identified himself as “the disciple that Jesus loved”. I want to live that confident in His love for me. But make no mistake, John had no misunderstanding of what loving Jesus back meant. He wrote some very stern words that provoke examination of even the most faithful hearts.
“Whoever says, I know Him but fails to keep and obey His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But he who keeps His Word, truly in him has the love of and for God been perfected. By this we may perceive that we are in Him.” 1 John 2:4-5
Throughout the book of 1 John a key word is used that I believe is one of the greatest fundamentals of a Christ-follower, yet seems to escape so many: abide. It is our abiding, living, dwelling, and constantly communicating with God that keeps us in obedience.
“In this union and communion with Him love is brought to completion and attains perfection with us…there is no fear in love…” 1 John 4:17-18
Almighty God has made Himself at home in us. His love perfected in us through our faith, He delights in His children when they make themselves at home in Him.
“Anyone who confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides (lives, makes His home) in him and he (abides, lives, makes his home) in God.” 1 John 4:5