Our back door is unlocked. always.
Anyone can walk in the door at any time, and they do. We do not know how many people come in and out of our home in a week or a month. If only the toilet paper and coffee could talk.
The food never runs out. Ever. Nothing about it is rational. We are always having a new idea of how to create something from nothing and I smile knowing that’s Jesus. All good comes from Him, not us. We are learning Jesus math multiplication, not a formula that makes sense to any finite mind.
Little groups cluster, playing instruments, laughing at blunders, debating theology and confessing sins. When God said, “use your home for my glory,” I never knew it would look like this.
Friends work on their laptops while others clean the dishes. Someone grabs a shower and others watch a documentary. Board games anyone? Laughter, heated discussions, attentive listening and brokenness mingle together. We are a people in need of Jesus.
The house is quiet this morning, except the hum of the dryer and the dishwasher, as people spend time with Jesus, study, read and work. Interruptions are “What do you think about this?” or “pray with me about this.”
We leave for the day and find more food has been left in the fridge and the pantry. The laundry has been done and left folded in the basket. Someone cleaned the bathroom. We don’t need to be overwhelmed with the house, the stuff, the cleaning.
Friends walk in and ask, “what can I do to help?” Please straighten the coffee table, put ice in the glasses, can you grate these tomatoes? Check on the kids outside, build a fire, wipe down the bathroom counter. We are learning to live life together.
Years ago we lived life with a locked door and it was different. We cooked dinner for ourselves, a different meal every night, experiencing with the finest foods for ourselves. We spent hours in front of the television and hundreds at restaurants. We didn’t know what we were missing. We were an indulgent lot, satisfying ourselves instead of thinking of others. We sat around dreaming about what “we” were going to do next, our next vacation, our next house project, what furniture we wanted, the next “we” toy. I remember dreaming about toys like bikes, boats, televisions, camping gear, and a vacation house.
Some dreams we really worked for, to treat ourselves. We bought these awesome mountain racing bikes, top of the line, and spent many Sunday afternoons riding them. We bought a big grill for braai’s. We bought nice clothes and expensive sunglasses. We spent for ourselves, thinking about ourselves and with the intention of delighting ourselves. A large majority of our dreams became a reality through travel expenses that involved new experiences, fuel, food, hotels, adventures and amazing entertainment. Sure, we could justify that we included some people in our fun. We biked with friends, we cooked for friends, we traveled with friends and we were entertained with friends.
Our house was a place where we slept, a place we washed clothes for the next trip, a place we secured, and a place we left empty almost every weekend. The paradox being that we always spent money updating the house, looking for what new decor we wanted and what party we could host.
The reality about the life of our locked door was life was about us not others. Life was about what we wanted, not what someone else may have needed. Life was about ourselves. We never prayed about those selfish dreams. We made them happen from our own abilities. We never checked with Jesus as to whether how we were living was how He wanted us to live. We did what we wanted and that was our reality.
How did God change us? How did he teach us to unlock the door and let the world in? To leave the population of “me” mentality?
We really don’t know.
God worked in us, changing us in ways we could never have changed ourselves.
We know it took time, risk, thousands of baby steps and a hideaway key. Before we left the house unlocked, we learned to tell people how ‘to gain access.’ When we were home, we learned to yell, “it’s unlocked, come in.”
A storm hit our city and a friend needed to shower after his night shift, the neighbor needed sugar and eggs, someone was going camping and needed to borrow a sleeping bag, another was going on a mission trip and needed the guitar case. Our hideaway key is right here, we would show them. Walk in and get what you need.
One day we realized, we couldn’t make a list of all the people who knew how to get into our house. If everything disappeared from our house, we would not be able to prove that it was not stolen from the people we know. People started leaving items for other people. Others were showing others the location of the key. No one was knocking anymore.
Maybe that is when trust showed up.
Nothing about the stuff mattered. When a foster family needed a chest of drawers we shared and when we needed shampoo someone gave us three bottles. When we didn’t have a car someone shared with us for two years and our living room became a bedroom to sleep more people. Families needed food and God opened our pantry and freezer.
The closets and the vanity cabinets do not seem so private anymore. Nothing of our life is hidden. People see our unmade bed or dirty clothes on the floor. They dig in our medicine cabinet for headache medication, q-tips or Neosporin. They see the plastic dish catching the water under the sink, the ring we haven’t cleaned in the toilet and the dust on our sofa table.
We are exposed. The door is unlocked and nothing bad happened. We realize the world relates to our mess, to our hoarding, to our heart-level brokenness. When the door is unlocked, we can fellowship with one another, we can serve others and we can practice the love the pastor preaches at the church building.
Yea, we lost some of our lazy. Our time is not always our own. We don’t delight our palettes with gourmet food much anymore. Our weekends are other kinds of entertainment. The whims are different. The furniture has more stains and the hardwoods more scratches. Toys get broken and left outside in the rain. Our money is more than “ours” these days or maybe the definition of “ours” changed to encompass more people.
The unlocked door helps us be more alive. It’s crazy, but the free creative vacations are more exciting than the ones that cost hundreds. Transport is more about “from here to there” than about what it looks like and how few miles. The restaurant outings are appreciated and the clothing, makeup and shoes don’t matter any more.
“Who’s that at the door?” I wonder, as I hear the door creak with the turn of the knob and that familiar push against the door casing. My eyes look up. In walks…
The hideaway key is still there, but today it seems obsolete. To use it means someone locked the door.
Why would we ever lock the door?