"We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."
And for as long as I've regarded that framed text on the wall, my idea of abiding has just been....being. Like a plant growing, I suppose. Not very interesting. Not very vivid. Just being.
The verse up there in italics was the subject of a bible study last week. As a group, we sort of discussed what abiding (among other things in this verse and the surrounding ones) meant. Our pastor, whose house we were at, used his house as an illustration: he abides there: it shelters him from the elements, there's food in the fridge for him...
My brain took off from there. I glanced around the cozy family room we were in. This is his house. The furniture is arranged the way he wants it. The walls are the color he wanted them. This home is accommodated to suit him; the longer he and his family have lived here, the more it has become theirs.
You can tell one lived-in house from another.
When one first moves into a place, it has considerably less personality, less markedness of the people that inhabit it, than it will even a few months, and certainly a few years, down the road.
Our living room may have been mostly devoid of furniture in the first two years we lived in it; but sixteen years later there are pictures of my family all across the walls, well-loved furniture that has been moved and moved again, books and pens scattered around, and today's mail on a bench near the door. There's no doubt whose house this is.
So too, when the Lord moves into the house that is you: the longer He abides there, the more things are going to get scooted around and rearranged to suit Him. The walls are probably going to get a different color scheme than the one you picked out. He's going to rearrange the furniture, or maybe even buy a new couch. He's going to hang pictures on the walls that please Him. And maybe a wall or two is gonna get knocked down and the entire kitchen remodeled.
And you know what?
The finished product is going to be more beautiful, more healthy, more peaceful, more joyful, and more satisfying than anything you could have dreamed up while picturing your dream house.
But you have to let Him call the shots. Don't argue about the color of the front door or the spacing of the couches or the type of sink He's putting in. He's better at this "making all things new" thing than you are.
That means you're going to hear things like this.
Hey, that dream you've been holding on to? It's going to go tonight. It's keeping you from me.
The way you color your words doesn't exactly reflect me. Let's repaint the way you speak.
You keep tripping on that stumbling block in the middle of the floor. I know it's going to take some tugging and pulling, but let's move that. Right out the door.
You're hiding behind this wall. I'm going to knock it down over the weekend.
That sculpture you're really proud of in the entryway? Your pride is keeping you from being useful. I'm going to take your accomplishment off its pedestal.
It's not fun. It's not pretty. It's hard work.
But you're also going to hear things like this.
This space seems quite empty. I'm going to bring you friends brighter than the prettiest flowers to fill it up.
Your kitchen shelves are looking scarce. Open my Word - there's a storehouse there to sustain you.
Here's some ministry and blessed times and memories and family to decorate the front of the fridge with.
I have this fresh coat of paint. It's beautiful, and after I scrub your stained and scraped walls clean, I'm going to give them a completely new look. You're going to love it.
There's something absolutely charming about a very lived-in house filled with people that love Jesus. There's something peaceful about it. Something fruitful. Something satisfying.
There's something absolutely charming about a person in whom God lives; someone who loves Jesus. There's peace. Fruit. Satisfaction.
Abiding isn't static. Every day your house, your bedroom, your closet, becomes more and more yours as you live life. Your intricacies fill them; no one knows your house better than you do.
God abiding in you, you abiding in God: they are not unmoving statements. It is Him living every day in you and making you more like Him. It is you getting to know Him, better and better, like knowing the way to the kitchen even when the lights are off.
Every day that you walk with God, be encouraged: you're getting more and more lived-in. He is abiding, being, living in you. Making you, you earthen vessel, you mortal temple, His habitation.
You've been His since the day He bought you and put His name on the title deed, and every day that ownership becomes more and more clear.
He is your God. And you are His delight.
And He that has begun a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. I promise.