Palm trees, blue skies, brick chimneys – all things of beauty. Hang on a minute, is this a cute little house I see before mine eyes, the gable window towards me?
The thing is I love the idea of living in small places. In houses – the loft or the basement continually whisper to me “live here! live here!”. I like boats, trains, plains, campervans and yurts – for their potential to be a permanent home for me. Dr. Freud would have a field day analysing what that’s about. As a christian I may be able to help him – later. As a christian I should also be prepared to live anywhere and grow to love it for Jesus’ sake. A typical house presents that type of challenge for me. I don’t desire it but could do it – for Jesus’ sake. Sounds weird – I know. This little house in the pictures above looks a challenge in the opposite direction – a beautiful challenge. I am assuming, however, that there is some kind of toilet. I am also assuming it doesn’t look like the one you might have in your house. It doesn’t need to be. Toileting is a function of the body. A toilet only needs to be functional. But it needs to exist – indoors – preferably – please please. But its existence really is a deal-breaker for me.
I am not sure why I love the idea of living small. There is something about closeness and compactness. There is something about living in a space which is so small, relatively speaking, you end up doing a lot of your living outside of it. It forces you to look out while in and get out when in – weather permitting. But it’s the smallness which acts as the agitator in this process and therefore the small space heightens the sense of preciousness of the in and the out. For me the small expands life. I seem to have some inside (pun intended) information on this. I have dabbled in living small, so I know what I’m talking about.
For me the small inside space forces and energises a relationship with the big outside space. That’s pretty special. But there has got to be something else at play in this ‘loving the small living space’ thing. I think there is something about safety and warmth. Both are desirable for human living, indeed human flourishing. I certainly desire both safety and warmth. Both tangibly and spiritually. I also find both of them being maximised spiritually in my ongoing life with Jesus. And yet because I experience them in him, I must also not desire them in a physical sense so much that I wouldn’t be prepared to live without them for his sake. In fact, Jesus gives me good reasons to expect that both my safety and warmth will be challenged and even taken away from me for his sake. He even goes further to say that I should actively give them up, pursue a life without them for his sake. [Matthew 16:24-26 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?]
When someone wishes to take them from me I should give him more. Undermine him, subvert him by giving more than he demands. [Matthew 5:38 38 ‘You have heard that it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.”[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.] Let my surrendering, my cheek-turning be so resonant and expressive of my allegance, dependence and joy in Jesus that the demander or thief (sounds like commander-in-chief – let’s leave that for another post) is beautifully assaulted with a huge picture of Life & Love as it was meant to be. The huge picture I am boldly promoting would in fact be pretty small because it’s distilled through me (humble donkey remember!) But nevertheless, it would be an example of the ordinary living in and through and for the Extraordinary. Because the surrender is really for the One who is worthy – Jesus is the Wothy One – it might be tiny but it would be like pure gold – 24 Karat.
Surrender for the sake of Jesus is a beautiful surrender. Sweet in the now, in the tomorrow and in the hereafter. In the now and the tomorrow it is sweet but not sweet only – it can often be bitter. Bitter & sweet. Surrender for the christian evokes the inner joy of obedience to Jesus but is often won in the crucible of external suffering. For the christian, surrender and suffering are seldom far apart. Like for Jesus in the garden of gethsemane. “Father if it be possible for this cup to pass my lips (suffering) yet not my will but yours be done (surrender)” Words of Jesus in Luke 22:41-42
And he (Jesus) withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
So while I love, prefer and feels safe and warm in the small living space I want to be willing to surrender to Jesus in all things for his sake. Anything done for his sake is like a man throwing away his seeds – into a soil so rich and fertile, so warm and safe.
John 14:2 – “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (words of Jesus). You’ve guessed it – “can I have the small one please?”