Friday, March 25, 2011

Such As I Have Give I Thee

We acquired our property mid-August, and it reeked horribly. Cats, ferrets, dogs. 109 degrees the first time we walked in the door. Windows closed. Living room carpet a patchwork of urine stains. Our eyes watered as we gasped vainly after fresh air.

We ripped out all the flooring. Only way to get rid of the smell. Painted every square inch of the interior of the house. Same reason. Covered the living room with carpet patches free off craigslist. Same in the bedrooms.

Left the bare floors as they were: subfloor, topped with leftover linoleum felt, slathered in paint. Totally impossible to clean. We know. We've tried. As have others.

So... we don't have great floors.

Conundrum: we like to have people over.

But I was embarrassed about the floors. Way embarrassed. Idolatrous, yea verily.

We had scheduled a lunch date with our pastor and his family, but a couple of weeks prior, I suggested to Jeff that our house wasn't good enough for them, and we should maybe take them out to Izzy's instead. Further, I asked if we could just stop having people over until we had better floors.

Jeff frowned.

That same day, at church, our pastor preached about living in community with the body of Christ. He said we were hand-picked by God because He wanted us (not because we had great floors), and that fact enabled us to live our lives without shame.

The pastor asked the congregation, "What things in your life have been a source of shame to you?"

Turning to Jeff, I muttered, "My house..."

Next question: "How can the righteousness of Christ shine through your shame?"

Could the answer have been more clear?

"By letting the pastor's family come over instead of taking them to Izzy's."

We didn't keep that appointment with our pastor's family, as it turned out. Why? Because we were already hosting! In fact, we were on our second set of houseguests! And after that, we had another! In a few days, if all goes to plan, we'll have a few more!

No wonder Jeff frowned when I asked if we could stop having people over. He could tell that wasn't God's plan. In fact, God is frequently in the habit of being the strength in my weakness. "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us" (2 Corinthians 4:7).

A few days into our second set of houseguests, Jeff and I read the story in Acts 3 where Peter and John meet the lame beggar outside the temple. He asks them for silver and gold, and they tell him, "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk."

Jeff stopped reading, and we looked at each other, eyes wide. "That's us," I said. "Silver and gold and nice floors have we none, but such as we have, our guests are welcome to walk on."

We want our home to be a haven... a soul-escape. It's not perfect, but God makes it tranquil nonetheless. Who are we to deny tranquility to those for whom God intends it just because there are dog prints on the subfloor?

In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth... sit down and rest.