Our little family moved to the Atlanta area almost 6 years ago…we came from Nashville, before that Houston, before that Oklahoma… I look back on the places that God has provided for us from the time that we first were married and marvel at His attention to detail. Each place has marked us in such a special way.
When we began looking for a home here, Nathan was in the middle of a big project and was not able to travel to Atlanta with me to look for homes. Our home in the Nashville area sold in only 4 days, so I needed to get on the ball if we were going to have a home by the start of school that coming year. I didn’t really know where to start so I just googled “realtor” in the area where I knew we wanted to try to land. I prayed as I looked over the head shots of realtors…yes, I said head shots. (So, if you’re a realtor out there, I guess it matters.) When I landed on Laura Hipp’s page, I felt a peace in my heart and called her up. For several weekends after that, Laura (who is still a friend of mine to this day) and I became a team as we combed the area for just the right setup. Oh…some of the homes you go in. WOW. In fact, when you go through so many you have to start coming up with nicknames for them! Let’s see, there was “the cat house”, “nantucket”, “the bowen house”, “murder house”…yes, there are some you walk a few steps into and just look at each other and head for the door as fast as you can!
The home that we live in now was one of the very last homes on the list. I was weary at that point of the responsibility of finding a place for our little tribe to settle. I’ll admit, I was anxious, after all, we were moving here to help plant a church. Man, the looks we got from people…especially when I would tell them there was no building and only about 10 people involved. We left everything we knew from 10 years of settlement in Tennessee…a church and friends we adored. We left Nathan’s work essentially, since producers and musicians typically live in Nashville. We headed towards what felt like air at the time. The weight of our decision was weighing so heavily on me in particular, or at least I let it. The home search had proven to be frustrating since we were leaving a home that we had literally tailored over the last 7 years to fit our family perfectly. I was on the brink of either giving up or going back to the drawing board when we found this place…the place where we landed.
When I first walked up to the front door, I noticed a scripture etched into the stone wall on the front porch. Matthew 11:29. I immediately wondered what scripture it was. I thought…it’s probably something like “as for me and my house we will serve the Lord”, which is a great scripture to put on your home but definitely one that would be expected. As we looked all through the home I kept thinking…I’ve got to find a bible and look it up! I figured since it was Matthew that it was Jesus’s words…the suspense was killing me. When we headed for the car, I remembered I had my bible in my backpack and raced to Laura’s car to look it up.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
As I looked at those words, straight from my Savior, I looked back at the house from where I was standing in the cul-de- sac and knew I was home. Jesus has always led me by my heart. He knew that I was weary that day and He knew I’d be weary today. He knows my heart and my tendency to “do” instead of “be”. He knows the preacher’s kid in me will often auto-pilot to the Sunday School answer instead of reaching for the true rest that is mine today. The “yoke” I am invited into is Jesus’s way of doing life. Yes, there’s a way for us to live that He has already made for us. It might be a narrow path carved for us, but it’s like he’s saying, “look…it’s ME in the yoke with you! This is supposed to be easier than you’re making it, kiddo!”
He knew me well enough to know that I would need this promise in particular literally “written on the doorpost of my house”. Yes, it’s a house – brick and mortar – but more than that it’s a “place”. A place or area where I live with my family and life happens within these walls. Teachable moments, prayers, tears, fears, resting, testing, doubting, singing, growing, worship, covenants, meals, celebrations, breath….LIFE. Deuteronomy 6:4 -15 says,
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as an emblem on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates….it is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you – for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God.”
What does Deuteronomy 6 have to do with Matthew 11? Everything. To love the Lord with all my heart, soul and might is to be able to say today, “Jesus, as an act of obedience and a response to your love for me, I take your way of doing life upon me.” I will not fear man. I will rest because it is you who I am made by and for and you and you only will I fear. I will not go after other gods or the gods of the people around me. I will rest because nothing satisfies my soul like you. See, He knows my tendency to want to please man, to make plans without Him, to lean towards “doing” today to feel good about where I’m at. Praise Jesus, the beauty of the gospel is that I don’t have to pretend that I don’t struggle with things… Paul said “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” That’s what I want and need today….Christ’s power resting on me. That’s true rest. Not my will, my way, my path, my strength…but His.
I didn’t post that promise on my doorstep but if given the chance to etch it there myself, I would. He etched it there for me, which is humbling and so loving of Him. He knew my heart would grow weary from time to time so He carved me a little “eben-ezer”…a stone of help, to remind me that He is with me. I don’t really have to have the promise etched in stone, it’s etched on my heart. I tell it to my children that they will tell it to theirs. When I lie down and when I rise, I want all of me to love the Lord my God above anything else in this life. To learn from Jesus, gentle and humble, as I take on the way HE does life today. Rest.