When I was a kid we had this small little brass plaque that was nailed to the front door of our house, it was only a few inches tall, but the words on it were as important as the house itself.
Last night my phone rang at around 2 in the morning, I scrambled to my feet, already having missed the first half of my nights sleep because of a daughter who is fighting off a nasty cough that seems to have ran through her lungs like a rumor through a junior high classroom.
“Hello?” I said, rubbing my eyes, trying to get them to focus.
“Selam no” A man’s voice replied and paused before continuing on into a quick stream of Amharic.
“Amharinia Yellem” I said back. (I do not speak Amharic)
The line went dead and I plugged my phone back into it’s charger and stumbled back into my bed. Frustrated and now even more tired than ever.
I tossed and turned in bed for a while, but could not get back to sleep, and this little saying started replaying in my head.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
I have no idea why it came to me, clearly it had nothing to do with the phone call, but I could not shake it.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Over and over again.
“Ok God.” I said out loud (I tend to do things like talk out loud in the middle of the night when my wife is away)
“What does this mean?”
I sat up and looked around the dimly lit room and wondered, quite possibly thinking for the first time about the consequences of this familiar statement.
“What is it that I am in charge of here?”
Clearly there is more to it than the house itself, if all it meant was keeping the lawn cut and the roof from leaking I don’t think there would be much to it. (For a family like ours that means an ever changing job description because in our 12 years of marriage we have lived in 18 different houses.)
What else though?
“Maybe I need to be thinking more in terms of those I am responsible for.”
I thought to myself, now fully awake and eager to follow this train of thought to the end.
Ok… I have a wife, and four kids. They are all clearly part of the “my house” that is referred to in the verse. I spent a lot of time dwelling on the responsibility that was mine each time we added to our family, first with our two biological children and then later our two adoptions. Every time a new child came in, I had to expand the border of what I considered to be my responsibility.
But what if there is more than that.
I stood to my feet and wandered over to the door and opened it, stepping out into the brisk air on the balcony.
The moon was mostly covered by low clouds that spoke of the impending rainy season that is due to arrive around this time of year, still just enough light shone through for me to be able to see the dry brown fields that stretched out ahead.
“Is the house that we are called to tend as christians more than the physical house that we dwell in and the family we call our own.”
I remembered back to another verse that was highlighted in a book I read about 10 years ago, (A book that received about as much criticism as it did praise, but still had a few nuggets of truth buried in it)
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
1 Chronicles 4:10
Could it be that the “house” that Joshua is referring to is the same “territory” that we should be asking to be enlarged?
As I pondered this my eyes scanned out along the fields and rested on the house directly next to ours, the same house that the widow lives in who wrote the letter asking that we take her children because of her financial struggles.
“Am I called to act as if her home were part of mine as well?” I said, again my words were out loud even though I was alone.
Think about this with me? We are called to stand tall with integrity, to be a beacon on a hill, to share the love of God with those around us, and to make the statement.
As for me and my house, we will serve the lord.
But what if we are also called to not just stand tall for the home and family that is our own, but also to take on the responsibilities and loads that others around are unable to bear?
I came back in the house and wrote this down on the back of a sheet of paper I found near my bed.
I am man of THIS house, and my borders do not stop at the little metal gate that surrounds the place where my family lives. For me, I want more, I want to serve the Lord, and I want to help those around me do the same, and at times that means I am to carry the loads that others are not able to carry on their own.
Are you with me? Will you open the gates to your house and start seeing your home as the place where love comes out from into the world?
The fact is, God gives us so much love, forgives us even though we do not deserve it, and so what else is there for us to do other than to spread it around.