"More Than Shelter" by Betty Fletcher

Recently in my devotional reading, I ran across a passage from Henri Nouwen that touched something deep inside—a longing I didn’t know I had. He says, “Home is that place or space where we do not have to be afraid but can let go of our defenses and be free, free from worries, free from tensions, free from pressures. Home is where we can laugh and cry, embrace and dance, sleep long and dream quietly, eat, read, play, watch the fire, listen to music, and be with a friend. Home is where we can rest and be healed. The word ‘home’ gathers a wide range of feelings and emotions up into one image, the image of a house where it is good to be: the house of love.”

I’d never thought of home like that. A safe place, sure. Shelter? You bet. But a place where I could experience restoration, healing, relationship, laughter, and joy? That hasn’t really been on my radar. And if I’m honest, and I’m trying to be, it hasn’t always been my experience in my relationship with the Lord either. In John 14:23, Jesus says, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” When I spend time with the Lord, I don’t always feel “at home” with him. There’s an undercurrent of anxiety that I can’t quite put my finger on but that you may experience too—a feeling that the Lord may be a little disappointed with me.

When I’m walking in the woods, I sometimes come across snow shelters. These structures provide the bare minimum of protection and are a welcome refuge in stormy weather. That’s how I feel in my prayer life. But God isn’t hunkering down in a snow shelter in our hearts. He has built a whole house there, and he invites us to take off our boots, put down our packs (or purses or briefcases or diaper bags), leave them in the mudroom, and begin to explore the rest of the home with him. Father, Son, Holy Spirit—all are waiting with open arms to have long conversations by the fire, share a meal, read a book together, face fears with us, prepare us for battles, and most of all, help us grow in love. Thank you, Lord!