Sheets of raining poured heavily from the darkening sky. The fading daylight made the two houses across the street barely visible.
The house to the right was large, new and beautiful. Glimpses of light peeked through the slits of the fine drapes that hung in the windows. The porch light cast a bright glow around the entrance. Elaborate balconies hung beneath two of the upper-story sliding glass doors. The front yard was well-groomed with neatly situated flower beds and elegantly trimmed rose bushes.
The house to the left was a modest dwelling. A warm glow shone from the porch lights. The paint looked like a warm brown with chocolate-colored facia. The grass out front was neatly groomed. Flowers and herbs sat in old mismatched pots around the porch. The single-story edifice had no distinctive architectural features, just some decorative shutters on either side of the house’s older single-pane windows. Plain white blinds had been drawn with the coming evening. Hanging from the brown door was a white sign on which a hand-painted message read: “visitors welcome.”
Staring thoughtfully at the two houses stood a middle-aged man with a small suitcase. His raincoat was barely repelling the rain as it spattered mercilessly against him.
He’d been looking at houses all day.
And what a long day it had been.
There were houses with exquisite exteriors modeled from the latest architectural trends. Houses with gorgeously designed and maintained landscaping. Houses that shouted affluence and taste.
He wished he could say the same for the interiors.
Inside most houses, the owners and chosen stylish but cheaply constructed furniture and gaudy decor. The floors were filthy, cobwebbed corners abounded and there was always, always a cacophony of sounds—the pounding of the latest music, shouting about some political issue, the mindless chatter of gossip and, of course, a streaming lament over how so-and-so had such a better house than their own.
Most owners were clueless about their termite problems, rat infestations, cockroach issues, leaky roof, poor weather stripping and other related problems. As long as the house looked good on the outside, what did the rest of it matter? It’s not like they wanted to really let anybody in. Many of them did not want him to stay long nor did they want his advice on how to fix their houses. He was a simple home inspector. It was his job to promote health and safety. Many of the owners wanted him to get in, praise their houses and get out as quickly as possible so they could get back to whatever they were doing.
He’d had enough of those houses. He was exhausted and seeking a place to rest for the night.
“I think I’ll try that modest house.” He murmured to himself. “Maybe they’ll have an extra room I can rent for the night.” He wasn’t sure how the interior would be, but the outside—while old and little worn—was kept orderly and tidy, other than the cluttered pots of flowers.
As he approached the door, the tantalizing smell of freshly-baked bread greeted him through the damp evening chill. He smiled absently. Lifting his weary hand, he knocked lightly on the door. It was a strong metal door that belied it’s gentle brown paint color and welcome sign. Within seconds, the door opened wide and a smiling elderly woman appeared.
“Come in! Come in! My but it’s a chilly night! Don’t stand out there, you’ll catch cold!”
The man gratefully stepped over the threshold into the warmth of the little house.
As the woman closed the door behind him, he took in his surroundings.
A young couple sat on a loveseat in the corner, each with a steaming cup of tea, chatting quietly about their day. An elderly man rocked in another corner of the room in a black kennedy chair, a good book in front of him. Next to him was a simple end table holding a small bowl of stew and a slice of bread.
A few small children were plopped down on the floor in the center of the room building with blocks and bursting into belly laughs each time the structure collapsed. A warm fire glowed in a beautiful stone fire place. While simply furnished, the room seemed to have everything to meet the needs of it’s visitors. The floors were not dirty… except for the spot where he stood, dripping mud and water.
“I’m terribly sorry about the mess—” he began.
The old lady chuckled.
“Think nothing of it, young man. May I take your hat and coat?” she said.
“Yes, please. My name is Mike. May I ask whose kind hospitality I’m accepting?”
The woman smiled, her eyes twinkling through her thick glasses.
“My name is Joy.”
Mike grinned. “That name seems to fit you, Joy. Pleased to meet you. Are you the owner of the house?
“In a manner of speaking.” she replied.
Mike cocked his head to one side in question, then continued, “I wondered—well, I’m just passing through for a few days. Do you have an extra room I could rent? I need a place to stay while I’m here.”
“You are welcome to stay here, of course, as long as you like. I have a room down the hall. I assume you’d like to have a look at it first?”
“Yes please, ma’am.”
Mike walked down the clean hallway. Pictures of various people dotted the buttercream-colored walls. The strong oak floor gleamed as though freshly mopped.
He walked through the door that Joy indicated into a beautifully composed room. A bay window was immediately opposite the doorway in which he stood. Beneath the window was a dark red cushion, neatly fitted over the seat—a perfect reading or thinking spot. A queen size bed sat on the perpendicular wall with a complimentary bed spread. The floors in here were also clean with an expensive plush rug in the center of the room. There was a vase of fresh flowers emmiting a warm fragrance that whispered springtime on the bedside table. The side of the room opposite the bed possessed a very comfortable looking wingback chair, a small but elegant side table and an ornate bookshelf.
Mike, an avid reader, approached the bookshelf with interest. Some of the books were old and well-preserved. Some were new with shiny dust jackets. Each book was a classic or a best-seller. All were free-from dust. There was no trace of bugs, mice or rats anywhere in the room. It was the most beautiful, welcoming house he’d visited all day. He exhaled with pleasure. After setting down his small suitcase by the door, he turned around and walked back to Joy who was standing in a bright kitchen by the stove, humming absently and stirring a savory-smelling stew.
“Well, what do you think? Would you still like to stay?” she asked.
“Joy, this is one of the most beautiful, well-maintained houses I’ve seen all day. I’m a home inspector. I mean, I’ve seen thousands of houses. I have rarely seen a more well-kept dwelling. How on earth do you do it?” Mike blurted out.
Joy turned a little from the stove to face him, still stirring the stew. She chuckled. “Oh, gracious! I don’t do all this work myself!”
Mike raised an eyebrow in question.
Joy continued, “I have a helper. He came to stay with me over fifty years ago. Whenever I ask him to fix something, he does it. I do plenty of sweeping and dusting and cleaning on my own, but if I need improvements, he helps me with them. The harder jobs He does without my help. He is always trying to help this house be the best place to live. His only requests are that I share my house with others, help him keep it tidy and, well… always let him be the master here.”
Mike was taken aback. Then his eyes widened with understanding. “Oh, that must be your husband.”
Joy looked at him, unblinking. “No, my husband died twelve years ago. He is the man sitting in the kennedy chair over there in the corner. He has been a constant friend to me and a constant friend to my husband. You should get to know Him. I’m always inviting people over to meet Him, but most people… well, what can I say… Most people don’t want to change anything and they don’t like Him. I bet you and He would get along splendidly. He is always looking for new houses to fix up. He might help you with your house if you want Him to.”
What is the state of your house?
I’m not referring to the brick and mortar place in which you dwell, but rather, I refer to your heart, soul and mind.
Is your heart a place in which God would be happy to dwell?
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20, ESV
Jesus, the son of God, lives within us. He dwells within our hearts, souls and minds… as long as we don’t crowd or shove Him out!
How lovely is that dwelling place?
Hang on a sec… don’t go over to the mirror and check yourself out! The Lord could care less how heavy you are, how many wrinkles you have, whether you have smile lines, a crooked nose or gray hair. If He did, do you think he would’ve spoken through a wild looking man like John the Baptist? Or an old baldy like Elijah?
In 1 Peter, there is a verse addressed specifically to women, but the principle is truly universal; God doesn’t care what you look like on the outside, he wants you to fix up what is inside:
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
1 Peter 3.3-4, ESV
What does God desire for every heart—man and woman?
He desires a pure, honest and true heart. A heart that wants Him to reign over it. A heart that longs for His presence. A heart willing to make the changes He wants it to make.
Consider the following verses that deal with purity of heart:
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
~Matthew 5:8, ESV
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.
1 Peter 1:22-23, ESV
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
~ Psalm 24:3-5, ESV
One of the primary reasons we should consistently read the Bible is to know the Lord and to know what kind of heart He wants us to have.
Are you working on your outer beauty and neglecting the state of your heart? Is your heart dusty? Moldy? Cluttered? Noisy? Tumultuous?
It might be time for us to do a little home inspection within our hearts. Who or what lives in your heart? Look for the termites of bitterness that creep in through lack of forgiveness and have your heart fumigated. Take out the clutter of worry and anxiety. Dust off the floors. Light the fire of God’s love in your heart so that you can invite people to share it’s warmth. Fill your heart with God so He can help mend what is broken in that place. Do whatever you can to make your heart a place where Jesus can dwell, with every room open to Him and meeting His approval.
As you go through this process, meditate on Psalm 51:
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
May the Lord be with you this week my friends.
Press on to know the Lord!