I went to a friend’s vacation house in New York once and felt at home the minute I walked onto the porch on the second floor. It wasn’t a porch on only part of the second floor. No.
The entire second floor was a screened porch, with a 360 view all around and down to the water. It felt like a treehouse, perched there on top of the house, and I was the lucky bird who landed and found a nest.
Feeling at home is a wonderful thing.
The Israelites have taken over most of the Promised Land by chapter 16. Joshua and the leaders are dividing it all up based on the number of people in each tribe.
The 2nd half-tribe of Manasseh complains that their allotment of land isn’t big enough for all of them. Joshua agrees that they need more room, but rather than give it to them, he tells them to clear the forests they’ve already got.
These Manassehites also complain that the natives with iron chariots are too strong for them, but Joshua’s not buying it. He knows what God’s already done for them in the wilderness and in crossing two bodies of water, and he knows what God’s promised he’ll still do–help fight the locals and drive them out, De 31:3-8; Josh 4:23-24.
Joshua stands on what God’s said. It’s on the people to believe him, “The powerful Canaanites, even with their iron chariots, won’t stand a chance against you,” Josh 17:14-18, MSG.
To get all the land God’s marked out for them, they must fight the folks with the latest warfare technology. To win, they have to ask God for help and trust him to give it, both humbling and unnatural feeling. I’d much rather do something myself than ask for help, much less trust God to show up in the process.
But that’s the life he gives us–one we can’t manage without him, one that’s actually impossible, humanly speaking. God gives us promises as true as he is and then waits for us to lay claim to them, to believe them, to join up with him and do what it takes to receive them.
Faith isn’t a sit-back-and-watch-God-work situation. It’s a cooperation, a join-up-and-get-fit-for-service opportunity, working out your salvation “with fear and trembling,” while trusting that God’s the one who supplies both the desire and the drive to do it, Phip 2:12-13.
It’s an astonishing partnership that he calls us into, where mainly we listen to what he says and then do it, but also where we seek him out and press in for the scoop, and ask for reinforcements and refreshments, too.
It’s not all up to me, as it turns out. And it’s not a large part that I do compared to his part, but it’s all I can do, and it‘s quite a lot—when I think about it—compared to nothing.
The walk-of-faith is like a tour-of-duty behind enemy lines with a state of the art walkie-talkie. It’s a strategic tiptoe through mine fields reading the manual, but with regular days off living it up, and naps in the back seat while he drives the truck.
It’s resting and trusting; it’s asking and listening; it’s obeying, for goodness sake–that word no one likes, including myself. But it’s not running off or refusing to show up. It’s never nothing.
And it’s the intimacy that surprises me, not all the impossible work. Because the work, you kind of expect. I mean, being on God’s team, you kind of figure you’ll have to do a lot, right? Trusting him is so alien, really.
But it’s the long hours with him in the hammock, the friends and family who show up exactly when you need them, the love notes he leaves everywhere–a bird’s song, a heart shaped leaf, a cool breeze. It’s the “You’re my favorite one–my beloved,” that throws you off. You thought you were simply reporting for duty, tolerated like a disappointing recruit. Ro 9:25.
God says you’re the apple-of-his-eye. That even if all the rest of his sheep are safe, he’d still leave them and spend all night out looking if you got lost. And that every time you say “oops” and head home to him, he throws a party. He doesn’t even ask where you’ve been or what took you so long, Ps 17:8; Lk 15:4-7, 11-24.
Gotta love a God who celebrates sinners who repent, who lets his glory and goodness clothe us, who gives us all his loot at the expense of Jesus, his firstborn, simply to have us home, popping a top with him. I don’t know about you, but I want to obey a God like this.
That’s what I didn’t expect–finding him as home—door open, light on, waiting up.
Jesus finds Zaccheus, a Jewish traitor and tax collector, a government sanctioned thief, a little man, hated by everybody, both Jewish and Roman.
Except for Jesus.
Jesus stops beneath his tree and invites himself over for a meal, stumping the rest of the crowd who’ve got to be thinking, Why this guy?
Because this guy “wanted desperately to see Jesus.” That’s all it takes, as it turns out, to get Jesus to come over to your house. Zaccheus simply ran ahead and climbed a tree so he could see him. And Jesus did all the rest–came to him, connected with him, and then partied with him and the rest of the riff-raff, Lk 19:1-10, MSG; Mt 9:11.
Salvation came to Zaccheus, Jesus said (in case we missed it), because “the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost,” which seems to suggest, he didn’t come to restore the found. People who aren’t lost don’t need finding, after all. Lk 19:9-10, MSG.
Jesus finds home in a redeemed thief, among other outcasts, Lk 19:8.
The Korah brothers write that God keeps a record in his book of everyone who’s been born in Zion, where he lives. The Message translates it, of those who’ve been “born again,” 4-5.
There’s singing and dancing over these rebirths. There’s joy in the fountain. One day, we’ll see the whole picture. For now, thanks to this psalm, we see God’s log book and the living water splashing. We feel the refreshing. We can almost hear the laughing, 6-7.
There’s indescribable joy everywhere God is.
This is where I’m headed. This is what makes the struggle worth it–celebrating with God Almighty and everybody else, full of joy and forever to feel it. It’s a happily-ever-after I can only imagine: I get to come home to Zion like Zaccheus the thief, because I, too, feel desperate for Jesus.
Whether you’ve been in Zion through prayer and praise a thousand times or only once, everybody who wants to go, gets in and has a great seat. God doesn’t play favorites, Ro 2:11.
We all belong.
Where he is, is where I’m home.
“And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” Ac 2:21.
“Where you are, is where I’m home” comes from “Draw Me Nearer,” by Meredith Andrews.
Joshua 16-18, Luke 19, and Psalm 87 are selected for today in The One Year Bible.
You can read about my experience on that porch in New York here: https://onetruelove.blog/2018/09/03/chautauqua/