home chased and caught me

Home is not where I get chased to or chased from because home is chasing me. I know because it chased me across these five calendar days, begging for me to abide.

It had a little bit to do with the anxiety of job applications and a little bit to do with odd working hours and a little bit to do with prioritizing phone conversations. But, I can tell you it had everything to do with my heart being homesick.

I met a friend for a near-sunrise breakfast this week and I asked about the past weekend with her parents. She had one of those contented smiles on her face – the ones we wear when words won’t suffice – and she said, “Good. It was just so good.” And I knew just what she meant.

Home is that feeling you get when you are abiding under someone else’s roof.

But my parents’ home was not chasing me this week (although it is a wonderful place to abide – a place I don’t have to check the mail or arrange a social calendar or clear the dust mites from the corners of the closets). And to be honest, the “home feeling” has a time limit when it’s confined to a location.

I’ve called a lot of places home. After 6 months in Des Moines, “home” definitely describes my little street and the corner meat store and the running path to Gray’s Lake. I don’t have a hard time settling into new homes or missing them dearly when I uproot and transplant, but none of them were chasing me this week either. Because there is a limit to our earthly contentedness, an impenetrable obstacle to our earthly abiding even in the most home-ly of places.

This week the home that chased me was the one from John 15 and Psalm 23:6 and Exodus 36:4. It caught up with me mid-morning when I realized the ache in my gut wasn’t heartburn or indigestion or hormones. My heart missed home.

When the rain started to fall in the park, it struck me all of a sudden that my sloppy schedule and mishandled time management had cost me precious time with my Savior. I was doing things, some good and some just things, and somehow my silly feet had wandered from my true home.

I skipped my morning devotions.
I prayed mostly in transit.

I laughed and moped and chatted and filled all the space of the day. And then, I shook away the nudge to be still. I drank more coffee and went on longer rollerblading runs. I scribbled notes and made lists. I pushed down the prick of conviction and today it pushed back.

When I read this devotion today from Solid Joys, I remembered why it is good to be at home with the Lord, abiding in His presence. I remembered why my Savior’s shelter is the best place to abide. Because home is not where you run to when your vagabond shoes have holes and home is not where you run from in a dry season of discontent. 

Home is the forever love of the Father, who pursues us so our souls can best abide.

His is the home that never changes, never wearies, never rusts, and never tires. His is the home my heart gets sick for and the shelter that best covers my soul. His is the space where I want to abide.

Home chased me this week and caught me today. And as I abide out this Friday, His kindness is leading me to repentance.

abiding

Have you ever had a day where it feels like someone comes behind everything you accomplish and then scrambles it so it needs accomplished again? (all the mommas in the house say “hey-o!”)

It was something like that, this day, but I could feel God pursuing and persevering – stretching out grace so I could step inside it.

There was a moment when I had a little one in my backseat (who preferred silence to my singing antics), when I asked if I could pray for him. He didn’t say no, so I prayed… and as I did I got filled up remembering what kind of Savior I have. I got filled up just thinking about what the Lord offers to those who choose Him. I prayed for the little one’s heart and for protection and for a spirit ready to hear and understand the Gospel. And then the little one said, “Amen!” and I praised God with a satisfied soul.

Abiding in the John 15 kind of way does not promise prime “abiding conditions.” But this is the beauty of abiding in Christ – the only necessary condition is met in Him. The fruit-bearing branch on the vine only bears fruit because it abides in the vine. Not because the weather is right or because the irrigation is working (of course all these things are tended to by the vinedresser), but the branch bears fruit because it abides in the vine, and the vine is reliable to produce fruit.

Today when I glimpsed fruit on the branch, I praised God for the vine.
I praised God because He is the one condition necessary for good things.
I praise God because He abides in me and His grace alone can foil the tempter’s power.

fruit is meant to be eaten

 

My uncle sent me a text not too long ago after I asked him about the farms in southwest Iowa. It read, “Many mouths will be empty in the world, I fear.” The summer has been a big, ugly drought here in the Midwest.

And that has me thinking about provision.

There’s no way around it – we need food. We might be confused about how much we need, but the fact that we need it is not up for debate. We are wired to need food.

The reality that we depend on food is something God uses every day to remind us of our dependence on Him. When we have daily bread, we are thankful. When we lack daily bread, we remember that He is the bread of life. Whether we are hungry or full, God is always the Provider.

As I think about the fruit produced in John 15, I wonder what happens to all of the produce. Have you ever thought of that? God is the vine and we are the branches. If we remain in Him, we will bear MUCH FRUIT. It is clear that God is the Provider – what branch can produce fruit separate from the vine? But, for the person who remains in the Lord, what is to become of the fruit he/she produces? Does it just accumulate and then fall to the ground under the fruit-heavy branches?

Fruit is meant to be eaten, at least where I come from. I love the summer months that bring blueberries and sweet bing cherries. I love the fall months that bring Honeycrisp apples and grapes and pomegranates. I love the winter months that bring out the canned peaches and strawberry jams. I love these fruits because they are delicious.

So, what if we thought of the fruit on our branches in the same way? What if, as we are remaining in the Lord – knowing Him, finding out what pleases Him, and delighting to do those things – we are a fruit factory

What if God serves up fruit through our lives so that others can taste and see that HE IS GOOD? Isn’t this what it says in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine bright before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise the Father in heaven.”?

As we remain in Him, we cannot help but produce fruit – delicious, ripe, fresh-off-the-vine fruit. Now, if we could just find ways to serve others with this precious produce. Our fruit is not meant to rot on the branch, but to be shared and enjoyed!

The fruit produced by branches connected to the vine is meant to be eaten by others, enjoyed by others, and served to others. Let this be the way we handle the fruit of the Spirit.