20 May 2008

Downsizing of a Different Variety


Bible, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

In my reading today, I came across this bit of writing by Robert Boyd Munger that I had read many years ago. As I've been going room to room in my physical home with similar thoughts at times, it was humbling to read this and realize I've been paying much more attention to my physical surroundings than to my inner landscape. I think my heart needs a little housecleaning and downsizing as well.

My Heart, Christ's Home
by Robert Boyd Munger

One evening I invited Jesus Christ into my heart. What an entrance He made! It was not a spectacular, emotional thing, but very real. Something happened at the very center of my life. He came into the darkness of my heart and turned on the light. He built a fire on the hearth and banished the chill. He started music where there had been silence, He filled the emptiness with His own loving, wonderful fellowship. I have never regretted opening the door to Christ and I never will.

In the joy of this new relationship I said to Jesus Christ, "Lord, I want this heart of mine to be Yours. I want to have You settle down here and be perfectly at home. Everything that I have belongs to You. Let me show you around."

THE STUDY
The first room was the study--the library. In my home this room of the mind is a very small room with very thick walls. But it is a very important room. In a sense it is the control room of the house. He entered with me and looked around at the books on the bookcase, the magazines upon the table, the pictures on the walls. As I followed His gaze I became uncomfortable.

Strangely, I had not felt self-conscious about this before, but now that He was there looking at these things I was embarrassed. Some books were there that His eyes were too pure to behold. On the table were a few magazines that a Christian had no business reading. As for the pictures on the walls--the imaginations and thoughts of the mind--some of these were shameful.

Red-faced I turned to Him and said, "Master, I know that this room needs to be cleaned up and made over. Will You help me make it what it ought to be?"

"Certainly!" He said. "I'm glad to help you. First of all, take all the things that you are reading and looking at which are not helpful, pure, good and true, and throw them out! Now put on the empty shelves the books of the Bible. Fill the library with Scripture and meditate on it day and night. As for the pictures on the walls, you will have difficulty controlling these images, but I have something that will help." He gave me a full-size portrait of Himself. "Hang this centrally," He said, "on the wall of the mind."

THE DINING ROOM
From the study we went into the dining room, the room of appetites and desires. I spent a lot of time and hard work here trying to satisfy my wants. I said to Him, "This is a favorite room. I am quite sure you will be pleased with what we serve."

He seated Himself at the table with me and asked, "What is on the menu for dinner?" "Well," I said, "my favorite dishes: money, academic degrees and stocks, with newspaper articles of fame and fortune as side dishes." These were the things I liked--secular fare. When the food was placed before Him, He said nothing, but I observed that He did not eat it. I said to Him, "Master, don't You care for this food? What is the trouble?"

He answered, "I have food to eat that you do not know of. If you want food that really satisfies you, do the will of the Father. Stop seeking you own pleasures, desires, and satisfaction. Seek to please Him. That food will satisfy you."

There at the table He gave me a taste of the joy of doing God's will. What flavor! There is no food like it in the world. It alone satisfies.

THE LIVING ROOM
From the dinning room we walked into the living room. This room was intimate and comfortable. I liked it. It had a fireplace, overstuffed chairs, a sofa, and a quite atmosphere. He said, "This is indeed a delightful room. Let us come here often. It is secluded and quite, and we can fellowship together."

Well, as a young Christian I was thrilled. I couldn't think of anything I would rather do than have a few minutes with Christ in close companionship. He promised, "I will be here early every morning. Meet Me here, and we will start the day together."

So morning after morning, I would come downstairs to the living room. He would take a book of the Bible from the case. We would open it and read it together. He would unfold to me the wonder of God's saving truths. My heart sang as He shared the love and grace He had toward me. These were wonderful times.

However, little by little, under the pressure of many responsibilities, this time began to be shortened. Why, I'm not sure. I thought I was too busy to spend regular time with Christ. This was not intentional, you understand. It just happened that way. Finally, not only was the time shortened, but I began to miss days now and then. Urgent matters would crowd out the quite times of conversation with Jesus.

I remember one morning rushing downstairs, eager to be on my way. I passed the living room and noticed that the door was opened. Looking in, I saw a fire in the fireplace and Jesus was sitting there. Suddenly in dismay I thought to myself, "He is my guest. I invited Him into my heart! He has come as my Savior and Friend, and yet I am neglecting Him."

I stopped, turned and hesitantly went in. With downcast glance, I said, "Master, forgive me. Have You been here all these mornings?" "Yes," He said, "I told you I would be here every morning to meet with you. Remember, I love you. I have redeemed you at great cost. I value your friendship. Even if you cannot keep the quite time for your own sake, do it for mine."

The truth that Christ desires my companionship, that He wants me to be with Him and waits for me, has done more to transform my quiet time with God than any other single fact. Don't let Christ wait alone in the living room of your heart, but every day find time when, with your Bible and in prayer, you may be together with Him.

THE WORKROOM
Before long, He asked, "Do you have a workroom in your home?" Out in the garage of the home of my heart I had a workbench and some equipment, but I was not doing much with it. Once in a while I would play around with a few little gadgets, but I wasn't producing anything substantial.

I led Him out there. He looked over the workbench and said, "Well, this is quite well furnished. What are you producing with your life for the Kingdom of God?" He looked at one or two little toys that I had thrown together on a bench and held one up to me. "Is this the sort of thing you are doing for others in your Christian life?" "Well," I said, "Lord, I know it isn't much, and I really want to do more, but after all, I don't seem to have strength or skill to do more."

"Would you like to do better?" He asked. "Certainly," I replied. "All right. Let me have your hands. Now relax in me and let my Spirit work through you. I know that you are unskilled, clumsy and awkward, but the Holy Spirit is the Master Workman, and if He controls your hands and you heart, He will work through you." Stepping around behind me and putting His strong hands under mine, He held the tools in His skilled fingers and began to work through me. The more I relaxed and trusted Him, the more He was able to do with my life.

THE REC ROOM
He asked me if I had a rec room where I went for fun and fellowship. I was hoping He would not ask about that, There were certain associations and activities that I wanted to keep for myself.

One evening when I was on my way out with some buddies, He stopped me with a glance and asked, "Are you going out?" I replied, "Yes." "Good," He said, " I would like to go with you." "Oh," I answered rather awkwardly." "I don't think, Lord Jesus, that you would really enjoy where we are going. Let's go out together tomorrow night. Tomorrow night we will go to a Bible class at church, but tonight I have another appointment."

"I am sorry," He said. "I thought that when I came into your home, we were going to do everything together, to be close companions. I just want you to know that I am willing to go with you." "Well," I mumbled, slipping out the door, "we will go someplace together tomorrow night."

That evening I spent some miserable hours. I felt rotten. What kind of friend was I to Jesus, deliberately leaving Him out of my life, doing things and going places that I knew very well He would not enjoy?

When I returned that evening, there was a light in His room, and I went up to talk it over with Him. I said "Lord, I have learned my lesson. I know now that I can't have a good time without You. From now on, we will do everything together." Then we went down into the rec room of the house. He transformed it. He brought new friends, new excitement, new joys. Laughter and music have been ringing through the house ever since.

THE HALL CLOSET
One day I found Him waiting for me at the door. An arresting look was in His eye. As I entered, He said to me, "There is a peculiar odor on the house. Something must be dead around here. It's upstairs. I think it is in the hall closet."

As soon as He said this, I knew what He was talking about. There was a small closet up there on the hall landing, just a few feet square. In that closet, behind lock and key, I had one or two little personal things that I didn't not want anyone to know about. Certainly, I did not want Christ to see them. I knew they were dead and rotting things left over from the old life. I wanted them so for myself that I was afraid to admit they were there.

Reluctantly, I went up with Him, and as we mounted the stairs the odor became stronger and stronger. He pointed to the door. I was angry. That's the only way I can put it. I had given Him access to the library, the dining room, the living room, the workroom, and now He was asking me about a little two-by-four closet. I said to myself, "This is too much. I am not going to give Him the key."

"Well," he said, reading my thoughts, "if you think I'm going to stay up here on the second floor with this smell, you are mistaken. I will go out on the porch." Then I saw Him start down the stairs.

When one comes to know and love Christ, the worst thing that can happen is to sense Him withdrawing His fellowship. I had to give in. "I'll give you the key," I said sadly, but You will have to open the closet and clean it out. I haven't got the strength to do it."

"Just give me the key," He said. "Authorize me to take care of that closet and I will." With trembling fingers I passed the key to Him. He took it, walked over to the door, opened it, entered, took out all the putrefying stuff that was rotting in there, and threw it away. Then He cleaned the closet and painted it. It was all done in a moment's time. Oh, what victory and release to have that dead thing out of my life!

TRANSFERRING THE TITLE
A thought came to me. "Lord, is there any chance that You would take over the management of the whole house and operate it for me as You did that closet? Would You take the responsibility to keep my life what it ought to be?"

His face lit up as He replied, "I'd love to! That is what I want to do. You cannot be a victorious Christian in you own strength. Let me do it through you and for you. That is the way. But, "He added slowly, "I am just a guest. I have no authority to proceed, since the property is not mine."

Dropping to my knees, I said, "Lord, You have been a guest and I have been the host. From now on I am going to be the servant. You are going to be the owner and Master." Running as fast as I could to the strongbox, I took out the title deed to the house describing its assets and liabilities, location and situation. I eagerly signed the house over to Him alone for time and eternity. "Here," I said. "Here it is, all that I am and all that I have, forever. Now You run the house. I'll just remain with You as a servant and friend."

Things are different since Jesus Christ has settled down and has made His home in my heart.

The Cross on my wall

1 comment:

Linda said...

Thank you for writing this piece. As a Christian, I, too, struggle with spiritual things that I neglect in my life. It's an ongoing battle to find time to spend praying and reading my Bible. I needed to read this today!

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