In the first nine years of our marriage, Andy and I lived in seven different homes: four apartments, two townhouses, and a teeny-tiny condo with paper-thin walls. We rented, purchased, and sold. We primed, painted, and touched up. We packed, unpacked, and repacked.
The transient life, I decided after nearly a decade on the move, is not for me.
When we purchased our current townhouse, where we’ve been for nearly three years, I declared I would never move again. “I want to live here until the kids graduate and we turn their bedrooms into a library,” I said.
“How about we put a pool table in there, instead of a library?” Andy offered. “Or maybe just a pool!”
Thankfully we have several years to resolve our library and swimming pool debate, but my point is this: no more new houses for the Storms. I, Lord willing, am staying put.
However, lately I’ve noticed that God is in the real estate business. He loves new houses. Throughout scripture, believers are frequently compelled to move to new dwelling places. Like Abraham, for example, or the entire nation of Israel. Israel was on the move for 40 years. Talk about transient!
New homes are a common theme in the New Testament too, except in a spiritual sense. There I find that when I come to Christ, Lord willing, I will not stay put. God wants to move every believer into three new homes. He calls me to move to the houses of relationship, identity, and His eternal presence.
The New House of Relationship
When Andy and I were newly married, we decorated our tiny apartment with a dorm-room-meets-junk-from-our-parents’-garages motif. We each brought elements from our former lives: Andy contributed an inordinate amount of Yaffa blocks, and I filled our spare bedroom with my entire stuffed bunny collection. Really.
The closer we grew to one another, though, the more we let go of old holdovers, and established our home together. We bought our own furniture, and decorated as we preferred. The past wasn’t bad, but it had served its purpose, and was fulfilled in our new marriage relationship.
In the same way, God designed Christianity to be a living relationship with His Son, and anyone who follows Jesus must live in that house. Jesus explained it this way:
“No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.”(Luke 5:36-38)
In other words, Christianity cannot be contained in the old laws, because it is alive. The old laws weren’t evil, but they served their purpose, and were fulfilled in the person of Jesus. God isn’t about stale, empty tradition; He is about life. I must move into a new house of relationship—a living, intimate friendship with Jesus Christ.
And oh! This new house, built on love rather than duty, is so much nicer than the old. The house of relationship has spacious rooms with cozy nooks, and a wide-open yard for my refreshment and pleasure. What’s more, the longer I live in this house, the more it feels like home.
The New House of a Changed Identity
When our son was born, Andy and I cleared out the stuffed bunnies to make way for diapers and a crib. I was no longer a newlywed; I had a new role, a new characterization. I was a mommy.
In the same way, when I follow after Jesus, I receive a new identity.
“Therefore,” wrote the apostle Paul, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
I move, then, out of the old house of Amy’s nature, Amy’s whims, and Amy’s agenda. That house doesn’t satisfy me any more; I am no longer at home within its walls. In fact, the entire old neighborhood, with its selfish ambition and sinful desires, looks shabby and unappealing to me. I move instead to a new identity—one that is characterized by love and faith and grace. In Jesus, the old is gone, and a new life begins.
The New House of an Eternal Abode
My dream house on earth would have its own library, complete with leather couches and a soda fountain with Dr Pepper on tap. Happiness for Andy would be a pool table—or a pool—inside his house. But these earthly pleasures, and all my wildest dreams, will pale in comparison to the amazing presence of God. John caught a glimpse of the final house:
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself with be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!'” (Revelation 21:3-5)
How I long for that house—my truest home—His eternal presence! What a place it will be. When I move in to that final residence, I’ll leave behind all the hurts and heartaches that housed me in this life. There, I will know lasting peace and joy. He will make everything new, and I will live with Him forever.
Christ’s followers must be transients. God calls me to move to three houses: a relationship with Him, a new identity, and the promise of His eternal presence in heaven. Yet, with each move, there is really only one address: Jesus Christ. “Remain in me,” said Jesus, “and I will remain in you” (John 15:4).
In Jesus, I’ve found the ultimate residence—a dream house that satisfies and sustains and makes whole. I will never move again! I abide in Jesus Christ, and I am staying put.
Article photo copyright © 2009 Kelly Sauer. Used with permission.