I saw your little house on the island. I saw the tiny little living quarters with crates and boxes and laundry baskets lining the walls where the “stuff’ of life was neatly arranged. I saw the clean tile floor freshly mopped, erasing the dirty prints of tiny toes and the stickiness of food scraps dropped from little hands. I saw.
I saw that teeny little bathroom. I saw the old white porcelain tub and its fixtures and the little shower head, both of which fixtures only produce cold water. I saw the little sink counter top where the laundry detergent was placed while those freshly-mopped floors were drying. I saw them.
Outside that little bathroom, I saw a few shelves where your clothing for the whole family was folded and stored neatly. Four wardrobes in four little shelves. I saw those.
I saw the little nook that is your kitchen. I saw the little archway that’s under construction, designed to divide the little nook from your living area. I saw cabinets chock full of basic kitchen supplies. I could see what was in them, because they, too, are under construction and they don’t yet have doors. I saw, also, in that little kitchen, two state-of-the-art appliances with beautiful shiny stainless steel fronts. Those two things were the tell-tale purchases that showed me that,once upon a time, you had worked in that corporate office and you were well on your way to moving up—better housing, more things, an easier and more luxurious lifestyle, like the one you had known growing up, before you knew the Lord. I saw these, too.
I saw that one little bedroom that the four of you share. You, your husband and those two precious children. I saw one of those children waking up on the big bed that you share and another one sound asleep on a smaller child’s bed tucked away against the wall. I saw the worn covers and the neatly arranged clothing for your little family of four. I saw how you live.
Then I saw the amazing wall of learning in your house. I saw the alphabet and I particularly noted the memory verses. They were in plain view and it was obvious to me that this little house was more than a place to eat and sleep. It was a school; a place of learning and it was very clear to me that the learning was about more than reading and writing. It was about putting eternal truth—unchangeable, destiny delivering truth— into moldable little hearts. It was about character and ethics and evangelism. It was a wall about heaven. I saw that.
Then there was this woman from first-world America who looked around circumspectly at your house. She was there with a group of “first-worlders.” She really was aghast. She tried not to let you see her expression of disbelief mixed with horror and even, pity at your “poverty”. But you saw.
And now…now, as you recollect that moment with embarrassment and humiliation that just won’t go away, you’ve reached out to me, your friend from afar, because you need help to put the pity, the temptation to explain, the difficulty of embarrassment, the feeling that approaches shame into the perspective that you’ve adopted for your life. That perspective…that vision…is through the lens of God. It’s allowing the eternal, the immortal, the “forever” to influence the way you view the moment.
Let me tell you what I saw—I mean what I REALLY saw. I saw the storage around your walls. Inside the crates were the everyday “things” of your life. But I did not see your REAL storage, because it is in a place where there is unlimited—UNLIMITED—space. You have “store(d) not up for yourselves treasures on the earth where moth and rust corrupt and where thieves break through and steal” but you have laid them up in heaven where none of these things (or the rats you have killed in that house) exist. That’s what I saw.
And I saw that old white tub that you have bleached many times. It made me think of the AMAZING fuller, the One who can turn the garment of the Son of Man into shining whiteness (Mark 9:3). One day, Girlfriend, you will be in His presence. You will be in a place where there will be no more mopping, scrubbing, or cleaning. Nothing will grow old or dirty. And there will not even BE a tub or shower, because we will be forever and ever pure in that presence of Holiness. We will be spotless, just like everything around us.
And your clothing…all colors in four sizes there on those shelves. I’m sure some of the children’s play clothes have stains and are wearing thin on the knees. Some of them may be a bit wrinkled when they are unfolded from that constricted space. But do you know what I saw? I saw the clothing that’s without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; that garment that Jesus longs to present to himself—the one that’s been washed and sanctified and cleansed with the washing of water by the word (Eph. 5:26, 27). I thought about the few people at Sardis who did not defile their garments. You, friend, have some clothes that are better than any first-world clothes. You be protective of those clothes and you will be worthy. You will get to walk with him one day in white clothes because you will overcome (Rev. 3:3,4).
I remember the kitchen; those food supplies—ingredients for your meals—stacked in those open newly constructed shelves. But what I saw in your kitchen was the bread of life. It’s the bread you have because you have come to Him. I saw the running water of life; the water that’s only available to those who believe in Him. I remember the promise of your Master that you will never be hungry or thirsty (John 6:35).
I saw children at rest in that little bedroom. Secure, protected, loved children at rest. I saw the followers of the One who said, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” I saw you, the parents of the children in those beds, at rest as you are awaiting the coming of the One who will take you home to your complete and eternal rest.
I saw the Word. Not just on that wall of memory verses, but I saw it everywhere. That’s how Christians of all colors, nationalities, and socio-economic strata live. We just live the Word. It is what makes us all rich. It makes us secure, protected, positive and hopeful. It makes us worlds better off than the billionaire who is living without it.
And I am the first-worlder looking in. Oh, I am not that same woman who literally walked through your house exuding disbelief and pity at your circumstances, but I am one of the few in this world who has multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, central heat and air, a freezer stocked with meat and a guest house stocked with guests! I am one of those first-worlders who is challenged to realize dependency on the Father and who constantly must work to make sure I control the blessings rather than them controlling me. I have to constantly re-examine my decisions and daily devotions to make sure the “things” that are most important to me are not things at all. I pray that the Lord will let me use my blessings as a means to an eternal end rather than acknowledging them falsely as an end in themselves. Material wealth cannot be the goal. Bank accounts, homes, cars—all the plusses of this first world are not advantages at all if they keep me from heaven.
So, yes. You showed me your home one day. You walked me though its rooms and you opened up your soul to me about how there are some who make you feel uncomfortable about the modesty, even poverty, of the way you live. But Jesus has shown me, through faith’s eye, your other home. It’s a mansion. When people walk by it, they are walking on gold. It will never need new construction, inside or out. It’s perpetually new and perpetually clean. It’s the permanent resting quarters for moms and wives like you who have worked their fingers to the bone doing the most important work in this world, whether it’s in a five bedroom colonial, a three bedroom rancher or a little island cottage. There are lots of us who will probably live in houses of several sizes and styles during this short pilgrimage to the mansion. But the mansion there is not erected for the material wannabes. It’s prepared and reserved tor the spiritually elite; the humble, obedient ones who by faith have become a part of His chosen. It’s for the truly rich.
I saw your place. I’ve seen you in that place. And you are…the rich.
Your Sister Cindy