2013 - Vol. 70
Cottages in Trees - watercolor
by Jamie Treadwell
Our Abiding Place
Home is where
the heart is
The simple word “home” has a strong
impact on us. For most of us thoughts of home are agreeable and pleasant,
evoking images of warmth, shelter, rootedness, safety, security. Home is
where the heart is. It’s that place of our origin, a haven, a resting place,
the spot where we know we belong, the place we call our own, a source of
refreshment to us. To feel “at home” is to be at ease, on familiar ground.
Home: our abiding place.
And so the idea of going home is
usually a welcome one; with fondness and anticipation we make that trip.
The statement, “you can’t go home again” has a sharp poignancy about it.
With a realization of these many
aspects of home, it becomes significant that Jesus extends this particular
invitation to us: “Abide in me!” (John 15:4), or, actually using our image,
the Jerusalem Bible reads, “Make your home in me.”
The Lord is our
shelter, refuge, and resting place
More than any earthly home, it is
Jesus himself who is our shelter (Psalm 91:1), our rock and refuge (Psalm
62:7), our dwelling place (Psalm 90:1). He offers himself as our resting
place (Matthew 11:29), our refreshment. We have a sure confidence of belonging
to him, and he even allows us to claim some “ownership” of him, too: “My
beloved is mine, and I am his” (Song of Songs 2:16). As we grow into a
deep, intimate relationship with Jesus, we find ourselves more and more
at ease and on familiar ground in his presence. As with our home, “where
our treasure is, there too will be our hearts” (Luke 12:34). And we look
forward to finally arriving at our “homeland” in heaven (Philippians 3:20).
What a rich comparison there is in
seeing Jesus as our home. Even our most appealing notions or most pleasant
experiences of our earthly homes pale in the light of Jesus as our true
and lasting abiding place. A wealth of insight lies before us in this concept
for our prayer and reflection.
“Make your home
But we can find even more in this
comparison as we search the Scriptures further – more to thrill us, more
to excite us, more to move us to an active response to Jesus’ invitation.
While inviting us to make our home in him, Jesus went on to say he wants
to make his home in us: “Make your home in me, as I make mine in you” (John
15:4). In other words, Jesus requests that we make a place to receive
him, to welcome him, where he can take up permanent residence with us.
Earlier in his gospel, John expressed the same idea this way: “The Word
became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), or, more literally, “pitched
his tent among us” – made his dwelling place in our midst.
How can we respond to such a request?
And such an offer! What can we do to make more of a place for Jesus to
enter into our lives? Perhaps the most concrete action we can take is to
embrace the Word who dwells among us – to get to know the Word made flesh
by getting to know the spoken and written word of God in Scripture. St.
Paul gives us advice that is finely tuned to our analogy: “Let the word
of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16). Again, the translation
that the Jerusalem Bible offers strongly underlines the image: “Let the
message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.”
This image helps make real one of
my favorite (and to me, most helpful) ways of approaching Scripture. I
often think of Scripture and relate to it in terms of “making it my own.”
To me, that means not only reading Scripture, but taking it in, loving
it, embracing it, pondering it, allowing myself to be molded and taught
by it, obeying it, having it as my fingertips and in the front of my mind;
in short, becoming so familiar with God’s word that I can really say that
I’ve made it “my own” – my way of thinking, my way of life, my guide, my
One doesn’t build a house or home
overnight. Nor has Scripture instantly become my own. It has only been
with daily patience, daily discipline, daily prayer for insight into the
word of God, over years and years, that this familiarity has been growing,
that the word of God is truly finding a home in me. And there have been
many days of being hard put to find the time to read Scripture; or while
having the time, no desire has risen in me for this reading. But little
by little, gradually but steadily, Scripture has pervaded my life, has
taken a hold of me, and is finding that place in me that God desires and
yearns for. It is being written on my heart.
Make a worthy
home for the Word of God
In Old Testament times, the God
of Israel gave his people a way of holding onto his word to them. The direction
he gave to them so long ago has been relevant, meaningful, and effective
for me as I have striven to let the word of Christ find a home in me. Urging
the Israelites to prize his word, Yahweh said, “These words which I command
you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently
to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and
when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And
you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets
between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house
and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
May you, too, write the word of God
on the doorpost of your house. As you make your home in Christ, may you
also make a worthy home for his word in your heart.
[Jeanne Kun is a noted author
and a senior woman leader in the Word
of Life Community, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. This article originally
appeared in God’s Word Today, May 1991. Used by permission of the