I used to show up at my Aunt Becky's house all the time. I loved pulling into her driveway because I knew that the front door would open as soon as she heard me and she'd be smiling with her arms spread wide open and waiting in the threshold. She would say, "Hi, Dee!" and pull me into herself, then pull me inside.
Her house had a soft warmth about it. There were always lamps glowing and artwork hanging and music playing. It usually smelled like something cooking in the kitchen. Whenever I'd arrive, Aunt Becky would settle me onto the couch, whip up a chai latte or a plate of cheese and crackers, then come into the living room and sit beside me. And we would talk.
Sometimes our conversations were filled with chatter about our current excitements or dreams. Other times they were heavy with disappointment and sorrow. But most of the time, we just talked about the stuff that wove our days into weeks and our weeks into months: recipes and dinner parties, thrift shop finds and movie nights.
It wasn't the conversation that mattered so much; it was the way I felt when we were together. Like I was loved and interesting and precious and seen. When I was burdened with something heavy, I could tell her. She wouldn't shrink back from it - she wasn't afraid to sit in my sadness with me. And when I shared my dreams with her, she never dismissed them. Instead, she dreamt with me.
I was always welcome at Aunt Becky's house. I knew I could always go there and leave feeling better than when I arrived.
I think we all crave a place like Aunt Becky's. A place where someone will be waiting for us at the threshold with open arms. A place where we can feel loved and interesting and precious and seen. A warm and inviting refuge from the storms raging within and around us.
A verse from Psalms keeps running through my mind this morning, keeps comforting me whenever my courage wavers:
" But I enter your house
by the abundance of your faithful love."
It makes me smile to picture God's house. In my mind's eye, it is not a magnificent temple or gleaming white palace. It's a bungalow - modest, cheery. There are plants growing all along the walkway - bright flowers, sprawling succulents, lazy lavender. The front door is oak, curved at the top with a rounded window to let the light shine through. It always sits slightly ajar, because the invitation to enter is always open.
We can know that we're welcome to push that door aside and walk in any time because of the abundance of God's faithful love. In the same way I knew Aunt Becky would have her arms open and ready to pull me inside, we can be confident that God will do the same. That he'll be pleased to see us, whether we it's been too long since our last visit or whether we already dropped by earlier today.
And whatever our souls desire, it will be satisfied when we enter into God's home and sit with our Father.
If it's rest we need, he'll allow it.
If it's encouragement we crave, he'll inspire it.
If it's wisdom we seek, he'll speak it.
If it's companionship we're desperate for, he'll provide it.
Whether we come to cry or to worship or to sit in silence, he will be there, patting our hands or weeping beside us or dancing in the kitchen or daring our deadened hearts to dream once again.
"But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them shout for joy forever.
May you shelter them,
and may those who love your name boast about you."
When we go to God's house, not only do we get to bask in the abundance of his faithful love, we get to take refuge from the world. We get to step inside Heaven for a while and close the door to the clamor outside. We get to be sheltered from the pain and doubt and worry that the enemy is hurling like hail at our fragile hearts.
When we step through that door, we can know we are safe in that place. When God greets us at the threshold, we can be sure that he is happy we dropped by. And when we sit across from him, having shed our many protective layers and masks and hats that we wear to face the world each day, we can sigh with relief knowing that he sees us and knows us - and loves us still - more deeply than we could ever dream.
Oh, what a reason to rejoice. We can shout for joy and walk boldly through this turbulent world because we know that we always have a place in which to return for shelter. We have an open door and a loving Father waiting to pull us in whenever we choose to come.
All of our needs can be satisfied when we go to God's house for a visit.