30 days of gratitude in the home --
Being grateful for the home, itself...
Our family of churches sponsor clinics, health and education programs, and a teaching hospital in many poor areas. Near one such clinic, people live in tiny shacks built on a precarious slope. The women keep these dirt-floor shacks neatly and show hospitality. It's a rare luxury there to have even one pretty decorate item in the home.
We've all seen news coverage of natural disaster areas, such as Haiti and New Orleans, in which many people are suddenly displaced from their homes. In our family of churches, there is a church in Haiti. The members there made their way to the building and small grounds surrounding it and made sure that everyone was ok. Those who had lost their homes took shelter there, with each other, and built each other up in faith.
Even in the midst of affluence, a home can be lost. Some friends of mine watched helplessly as their neighbors' house burned to the ground. Their neighbors got out safely, but only with the night-clothes on their back and shoes hastily thrown on without socks on their feet. The community has pitched in to help this family. Likely, they have insurance and will be able to replace their house and furniture. Yet, this does serve as a reminder that we can't place our sense of home and our security in material possessions, which can be burned, stolen, damaged, or otherwise destroyed.
There are women in this world who do not have access to enough clean water for their families to drink, for their clothes to be washed, and for their homes to be cleaned well. There are others who struggle to put food on the table. Some live in refugee tents. Others live in shelters set up for women and children who are fleeing abusive situations.
True Christians are blessed by God to have a citizenship in heaven and a Savior who is coming back to take us to his home. Phil. 3:20. As the old song says, "This world is not my home; I'm just a-passing through."
Sometimes, when striving to be more excellent in my stewardship of our home, I can find myself building my own little kingdom in order to bring glory and comfort to me. What happens when I slip into that? I become complacent, which is all together a different thing than godly contentment. Or, I become frustrated when things don't go as I envisioned and my complacency is interrupted by life. Yet, when I repent of this self-focus and surrender all that I do to the glory of God, then I see things more clearly.
If our hearts are in heaven (Luke 12:34), then we carry home with us. No matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, we can be content. No matter where we are, we can love God and love others. We can share the gospel with others, so that they, too, will find their true and eternal home in heaven. We also give sacrificially to others, for we know that accumulating possessions here on earth isn't the sum of our life. (Luke 12:15)
Sometimes, I lie in bed on a rainy or cold night and think how grateful I am that God has given me a warm place to sleep. If I were to think about it more, I'd be grateful all day for things like clean, running water, indoor plumbing, household appliances, cars, dishes, glasses, clothes, shoes, etc. And, this is something that I do want to have in my thoughts -- a profound gratitude that God has given me a temporary shelter on this earth and a sense of joy in managing it for His glory.