I have a new morning routine. While I'm getting ready each morning I listen to Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, then (if I stick to my routine) I take about 30 minutes and either read a book that I feel like God pointed me to or sit and listen to see if God will speak to me.
Today, my morning routine podcast was “Transforming Cities” by Kris Vallotton where he says we need to “host the presence of God.” In other words, don't just look for God to show up and visit me on Sunday for an hour, as magnificent as that is. Instead find out how to actually host the presence of God / the Holy Spirit moment by moment, in a way that changes me, that physically changes the ground I walk on, and overtly transforms my community and everything in it.
That is a monumental concept and was entirely foreign to me, but as I heard it and compared it to the life of Jesus, I had to agree. So while I was making lunch I asked God, “Dad, how do I get to this place where I can host your presence? What does that look like? What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong?”
I didn't feel like he spoke to me so I kept cooking and probably started thinking about Skyrim or The Foo Fighters. A few minutes later I heard what sounded just like someone slowly pulling open the door to the back yard. That’s disconcerting because the only person who would be doing that at noon is a home invader. I quickly moved toward the place where I keep a shotgun and yelled with 100% sincerity,
“Do you want to get shot?”
Standing motionless and listening for foot falls, I didn’t need to plan my next move. I have been here before. Once was after my mom got robbed when I went from closet to closet in her home with a knife, yanking open the doors ready to slash the criminal inside. And I had done the same at my home with a hatchet or gun many times when we lived in downtown Cleveland where crime was a daily event. It's not a new phenomenon in and I was comfortable with it, maybe even a bit smug.
Then God nudged me and asked, “David, whose rules are you living by? Are you living by the rules where 1+1=2, or the rules where five loaves of bread feed 20,000 people? Are you living by the rules where lack of aggression gets you killed, or the rules where you march around an impenetrable walls of Jericho singing for seven days and the walls fall down?”
Then I quickly remembered what I just asked the Lord: “What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong? How can I learn to host your presence?”
Immediately I cried out in a far kinder voice, hopefully before any intruder could take flight,
“Come on in! This is a safe place!”
I meant it. In a flash I switched from killer to servant.
“Come in. This is a safe place.” That’s what the Lord has said to me throughout my life when I intruded into places I didn’t belong. Instead of using lethal force he would say, “David, my son, don't do what you were going to do. Don’t enter that place you were going to enter. Come to me instead. I am a safe place.”
And he has been a safe place. I never found out what the noise at the back door was that day, but I found out who I am, who I was made to be. Thank you, Father. Now it’s my turn to do as you have done and become a life-giver, not a judge, to those who intrude into my life. It’s inconvenient, it’s messy, and it’s rarely fair. Just like it was in the Gospels.
Jesus is Lord.