My House, God’s Home
by Pauline Hylton
“Wake up, Sarah. We have 20 small children coming over in 20 minutes!”
My 13-year-old turned over and squinted at me through sleepy eyes. She grabbed the clock by her bed and held it close to her face. “It’s 8:30 on a Saturday, Mom. What are you talking about?”
I continued, “Larissa’s party was supposed to be at the beach, and it’s raining, so I told Linda that they could have the party here.”
Both of my children crawled reluctantly out of bed to do what I call ‘The Windex Clean-up.’ This consists of frantically running around the house with a bottle of Windex and a wad of paper towels. Anything that might smell gets sprayed and wiped—the glass coffee tables, our sliding glass doors, the bathroom mirrors, a door knob or two, even my 10-year-old son (for precautionary reasons of course). I figure, Windex smells good, makes stuff shine, and might even have cleaning capabilities. Next, we picked all of the really big stuff off of the floor, including our two 60-pound standard poodles. We placed non-living things in a nice neat pile and deposited the poodles to a safe place, away from five-year-old hands. Then we welcomed 20 beach-ready five-year-olds to our home.
Most women would think I’m crazy. But it’s the norm for the Hylton house. We consider our house God’s house. He owns everything, right? The cattle on a thousand hills, the earth and everything that dwells in it. Shucks, He even owns the dead bugs under my refrigerator. I’m especially glad for that.
So, I’d like to share with you what I think about my home, and maybe you can glean a tip or two from my experience. (I guarantee you it won’t be my method of cleaning.)
The first tip is to be content. That is difficult in our culture. Every day we are bombarded with adds from the TV, newspapers, flyers, telephone calls (I really hate those), and the internet. They are all screaming the same thing: you need more; what you have is outdated; we have something that can make you happy.
I’m not saying that we can’t update our home, but it’s our motives that we need to consider. Are we getting the biggest and best ‘stuff’ for any of the above reasons? Do we care more about what others think of us, rather than what God thinks?
The reason I can talk about contentment is that I’ve experienced a lack of contentment many times concerning the three houses we’ve owned. For years I tried to move out of one house in order to finagle a way to ‘buy up’ to the next. I wanted bigger this and better that. Then there was the time that I was convinced that I needed to update our furniture from our current garage sale/Salvation Army look, not really understanding how that made my husband feel.
“Tom, look at the furniture at Thomasville. They’re having a sale!”
“See the leather couch. It’s the perfect color!”
“Pauline, I told you, we can’t afford new furniture right now,” he would remind me.
But I continued to peruse the furniture ads and lay them discreetly on Tom’s bedside table. It put undue stress on my husband and was actually unbelief on my part. I realize now that was sin. I looked to something else to make me happy instead of to Christ.
Have you ever really wanted something, and then you received it, only to realize that it wasn’t that great. In fact, you even grew tired of it?
I Timothy 6:8 states, “If we have food and covering with these we shall be content.” Most of the world doesn’t even have food and clothing. So ask the Holy Spirit to help you be content, and throw those furniture ads away.
The next tip I’d like to share with you regarding your home is that you should share it. I know many of you are uncomfortable with that. I know that because my friends were uncomfortable with it. But the more I dropped in unannounced and rummaged through their refrigerator, complaining about their leftovers, the more they got used to it. Yet, they still love me. Now they’re not as shocked when someone besides their obnoxious friend stops in unannounced.
Many of you think that your house isn’t nice enough or big enough or you’re not a good enough cook. That shouldn’t stop you. When Tom and I were first married, we purchased a 4 bedroom, 1½ bath, 1100-square foot home in a questionable neighborhood. While visiting the house that was owned by a single man, we noticed that he burned incense each time we arrived. We chalked it up to ‘the hippie era.’ After we closed on the house, we discovered the reason he burned incense; he used to leave his nine cats alone for several days at a time. You can imagine the results.
So what did we do? We burned incense and had a Bible study at our home. No one cared. We joked about it. You see, it’s not the house, it’s the hospitality. God wants us to share our homes because they really belong to Him, like everything else that we think we own.
Let me tell you, He’ll bless you for sharing your home. He’s blessed us with lots of good friends and the opportunity to minister for Him. It’s a privilege.
It’s not always easy, mind you. Like when we upgraded our home so that my parents could move in. How we bought our current 4 bedroom, 3 bath home is a ‘God thing’ that I’ll tell in a different story. Suffice it to say that until my parents moved in to our updated home, we housed a teenage exchange student from France, a college student from Uganda and a native of Pakistan. (Our neighbors began to wonder about us.)
After that, my parents moved in and ministering to them became extremely hard. God knew that. That’s why He gave us this house. We needed the large fourth bedroom and the handicapped accessible shower.
So expect blessings from sharing your home in the area of new friendships and unique challenges. They all make us more like Jesus.
The last tip that I have concerning your home is to be willing to let it go. A few of my friends haven’t had a choice in the matter in this economy. I’m sure you have friends going through the same thing. Or maybe it’s you.
Let me tell you about a day that changed my thinking forever—the day I moved my double-amputee father into a nursing home. He and Mom lived with us for almost six years. Finally, it became too much. I gathered up Dad’s things for his last move. I carried all that he needed in one arm.
I Timothy 6:7 states, “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.” Looking back, that day was a stark reminder of Paul’s words as my father died five weeks later.
We need to stop letting the world squeeze us into its mold, as Paul states in Romans 12. Our real home isn’t here, it’s with Him. So start making deposits in that heavenly home where things don’t rust and nobody steals.
Don’t wait until you’re over 50 to get your priorities straight. Don’t let a mortgage or a car payment or furniture payments keep you from ministering to others. Ask the Holy Spirit for what you need, and listen to His guidance.
By the way, I have two beautiful, burgundy leather couches. One is L-shaped and seats about eight people. My friends gave it to us because their cats scratched up the leather in a couple of places. It sits in our TV room where we host many football parties. I’m thankful for their naughty cats.
The other couch is exactly the same color and also is a hide-a-bed. It was $30 at a garage sale. You can’t find those deals in the furniture ads.
So start investing in heaven with your home now. As Randy Alcorn states in his book The Treasure Principle, “You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.” I like the return on that.
SIMPLE, CHEAP MEAL FOR 6
1 Sam’s rotisserie chicken
6 baked potatoes with condiments (If you have large ones, you can have less meat)
Bagged lettuce, adding tomatoes, onions and whatever is going bad in your fridge
Fresh strawberries with whipped cream and angel food cake (store bought)
Brownie mix that you purchase when they are buy one get one free
Pauline Hylton is a freelance writer from Largo, FL, who specializes in humor or whatever else you’ll publish. She loves dark chocolate, her family and the Lord (but not necessarily in that order). For more of Pauline’s writings, visit www.PaulineHylton.com.