After a crazy couple of months our house really feels like a home. There are still loose ends to sort out and other bits of the house that need some attention but the kitchen project has achieved what we’d hoped for. As I type, I am sat at the new kitchen table, looking out of the new bigger window to views of Sheffield and big sky. It’s a space that works for us now, where monosyllabic introverts can shuffle round each other in the morning without getting in each other’s way and then when we’re feeling more sociable we can get round ten people round the table for tea. More than ever it’s a place we can relax and just be.
This sense of home, of being at ease and at peace is something I often find myself drawn back to. I always have a strong sense of coming home when we’ve been away and we drive back into Sheffield. It feels like putting on a pair of really comfy shoes. I realise I am at home here in a way I never was in 19 years living in Bristol.
It’s not been easy living in a building site, it gives me much more sympathy for the people on Grand Designs! As is often the case, being stripped of routine and comfort is hard but as well as making you grateful when normality resumes it is also provides the opportunity to do some re-ordering and establish better habits. Louise has got me listening to some great teaching from Bridgetown Church in Portland (1), which has challenged both of us to think about phone habits. So for example, we have both started putting our phones to bed so they are not the last thing we see at night and the first thing we pick up in the morning.
This is based on teaching about the ‘Rule of life’ from the church’s pastor, John Mark Comer. He’s clear to distinguish between taking up a set of rules (don’t do this it doesn’t work) and choosing to follow a rule of life, which is about choosing a healthy rhythm for life, guided by God’s spirit.
At heart God is always in the business of drawing us back to himself and away from the things, which though themselves aren’t bad, distract us from having his as our primary focus and source. Jesus says simply, put me first and everything else will follow (Matthew 6). Put me first and the struggle and worry will recede. As it says in the book of John, we need to decrease and he needs to increase (john 3:30). That doesn’t diminish us, it it’s the basis for us to flourish, to grow more into the people we were made to be.
The ultimate call home is into relationship with the one who made us. People sometimes talk about the idea of being called home in relation to people dying and going to heaven. The idea though is that we live as part of the kingdom of heaven in the here and now – that our starting point for all we face is knowing God with us in all we do. God is with us. God is for us. God goes before us.
Unsurprisingly that’s easier to say when I’m sat in uninterrupted quiet at the kitchen table then when I’m on the office dealing with the latest cock up or edict. That’s why I need to start every day with God not the BBC sport app.
Rather than life being about rolling up our sleeves ready for the battle every day God wants us to meet with him and offer what he’s given back to him.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.
Note that last line – embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Life isn’t fundamentally about what we can do and it’s definitely not about what we can do for God but rather it’s about seeing what he wants to do in and through us.
I have an idea for a writing project that I’m a bit overawed by but God keeps reminding of some life defining things I’ve heard.
I remember the teaching that we were created to create. It’s what we’re supposed to do in all sorts of different ways.
I remember the stark response to a prayer request – ‘It’s not about you’.
Imagine that we’re not actually the centre of the Universe. God is. And that God, by his grace, has all we need to be blessed and live a life that blesses others.
So this year I’ll offer what I’ve got back to God and we’ll see what he wants to do with it.
Happy New Year. This New Year, God calls us home. He calls us home over and over again as we fight our self-sabotaging nature that fixates on ourselves, what we want and need and what we can or can’t do about it.
All the time he is telling us just to come and quietly be with him.