When I lived in Florida, I called Louisiana “The Promised Land.” It signified everything right and good and abundant in my life – or that’s what I decided in my heart and mind.
Five years after leaving Florida, something has become very clear to me. The Promised Land is wherever abundance lives. And abundance lives with Jesus.
A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. John 10:10 CSB
I also really love the way Eugene Peterson interprets this verse in The Message.
I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. John 10:10
What Jesus is talking about here is the lure of false hope, false joy, and false promises. They will be many and they will be tempting, but they will lead to nothing but death and destruction of every dream we have. He came to give us not only life, but life full of abundance.
I’m not saying Louisiana is death and destruction for me. Quite the opposite – living here these past two years has been a treasure, an extravagant gift, but it is not my Promised Land. My Promised Land is wherever God places me, whatever He gives me to tend, whatever boundaries He hands over to me.
So, what does this have to do with loving your real life? Stay with me here – I have a point.
If you want your house to feel like home, care for it.
(Feel free to replace home with “life, church, community, marriage, friendship – whatever) I can pretty much guarantee you that you don’t need to go buy a single thing to make your house feel like home. You don’t need to paint walls or hang pictures or rearrange furniture. If you have the means to do those things, you will certainly add comfort and beauty to your home – which is totally doable on a budget, but that’s a different article for a different time. But if you aren’t able to buy one thing for your house, I believe wholeheartedly that you will still be able to make it feel like home.
Do you ever find it curious that God created Adam and immediately give him a job to do? And that job was tending to what God had blessed him with? In perfect paradise, the plan was never for Adam and Eve to sit around eating figs (even though, good glory that would be fun.) The Bible doesn’t directly say why God did it this way, but I can’t help but think that a piece of the reason was because care of a thing or a place or a community breeds gratitude and love for it. That’s what I’ve noticed, anyway.
Lots of times I’ve been frustrated because something doesn’t “fit” well. A house or a church or a LIFE group or a neighborhood or a friendship – but I think maybe the fault is mine. I think that if I were to regularly clean the floorboards, wipe noses in the nursery, offer up my home for community, appoint myself the neighborhood welcoming chair, and always be the first to text or call a new friend – then probably they would come to fit just fine over time, maybe even perfectly.
If you want your house to feel like home, live in it.
The other side of the coin is this: we have got to slow down if we really want to experience abundance in a place, a season, or a community. We (read:I) spend so much time running, doing, getting, hustling, buying, hurrying, binging, and scrolling that we don’t really live where we are. We have screens that are constantly shouting that where we are isn’t where “they” are or we could be. We plan an activity for every moment of every day and then wonder why our house doesn’t feel “homey.” Do you know when my house starts to feel homey? When we lounge around in our PJ’s all Saturday long or spend an evening in the garden or when I stay up late reading or writing night after night, officially reaching the stage of walking through my house blind and coming out unbruised (except for the rogue Lego now and then.) We have to go to Farmer’s Market and the Bible Study and the Family Night Out. We have to engage. We have to live in it – whatever it is – if we want it to fit.
I’m speaking to myself, if that isn’t clear. And now that our house is on the market, it’s beginning to feel exactly like home, which you would think might be discouraging. Instead it gives me hope because God is doing a work in my heart, a work that says, “Oh child, The Promised Land lives within you – I will be with you wherever you go.”
I’m with you, friend. Life isn’t what I thought it was going to be. Gratitude and contentment do not come easily to me, but they never will unless I shift my thinking, make new habits, and pray different prayers – prayers that start and end with, “Thank you,” instead of, “Help me, give me, and please.” The promises have already been made. The Gift has already been given. Gratitude unlocks the door to contentment and contentment the door to joy. Let’s start using our keys, shall we?