God is giving Israel and the land they are going to a new start. The people who were there previously have made a mess of things. He is calling Israel to do better; to be holy as He is holy.
While I was thinking about our reading, I started thinking about a house. This house has an owner who rents it out. The first tenants made a MESS of things. They punched holes in the walls. They brought drugs in the house. They used if for all kinds of illicit activities. They trashed everything in sight.
The owner reprimanded them over and Over and OVER again. They would clean up their act for a little while then go right back to their behaviors. Finally the owner had had enough. It was time to get new tenants. He searched high and low looking for a family that would treat his house with respect.
While he was looking he came across a family who was struggling. Everything was stacked against them. They were working like slaves for little or no money. They owned nothing but the clothes on their backs. But they were a persistent little family who never gave up. They made the most of everything they had and they cared for the place they were living with great pride. It was a cardboard box but it was their castle.
The owner of the house asked the family if they would like to move into his home. Before they could answer he told them he needed to be straight with them and explain the situation. He told them that the neighborhood was wonderful and the lot had the best soil for growing a garden. When he lived there his garden won prizes every year for its yield. He told them that the house had five bedrooms, three bathrooms a modern kitchen, two living areas and a two car garage.
The family couldn’t believe their ears! The house sounded like a dream come true. But how would they ever afford it? Doubt began to creep in. “What’s the catch here?”
“You are right. There is a catch” replied the owner. “There is a group of people living in there now who have made a mess of the property. I will get them out if you agree to come. IF you decide to take my offer, I will pay whatever it costs to have the house restored. All I ask is that you agree to live by my rules.”
The husband and wife talk it over and agree that this deal is too good to pass up! They need a home where they can feel safe and raise their children. They are tired of living on the street.
The family packs their meager belongings and makes the trek to the new home. It is a lot farther than they realized. They don’t have money for a taxi, there are no busses, and they have no car so they walk. Food was in short supply when they had a “home” but on the road they deplete their supplies in short order. They don’t know what to do. Their children are hungry and walking uses up what energy they have with nothing to replenish it.
As evening sets in the family stops by the roadside for the night. A stranger approaches them with a basket. “I was told to be on the lookout for you by a very nice man. He said that when I saw you I was to bring you this basket. It is filled with everything you will need for the day. He said to also let you know that there would be a basket waiting for you each day with provisions for the next day.”
The mother breaks down in sobs as she examines the contents of the basket. There is milk and fresh bread. There is also meat and cheese, enough for sandwiches for all of them and even fruit to eat as they walk the next day.
Each night as they journey they are met by another stranger with provisions for an evening meal and snacks for the following day. There is always just enough to meet their needs and provide energy for their journey.
After seven days of walking, the family arrives at their destination. They see garbage strewn about the yard. Loud music pours out of the windows and people partying on the lawn.
“I thought the man said he would get the people out if we came. What are we supposed to do now?”
As the father finishes asking this question the Sheriff arrives. “The owner of the house has retained me to remove the current tenants from the property. I was to wait until you arrived so there would be no time the property was unoccupied and squatters move in instead.”
The family watches as the Sheriff rounds up all the current residents and sends them on their way. They knew to be expecting him because the owner had notified them of their eviction but some of them still protest. The Sheriff is firm with those who try to resist and offers them a night in jail if they don’t cooperate.
Soon the house is empty and available for the family. The Sheriff hands them the key and a list of rules the owner has supplied. They begin reading the rules and realize how detailed they are. “I guess he just wants to make sure we know what is expected of us. He made sure to include a lot of examples, just in case we had questions.”
The final section of his rules states his reason for being so thorough. “I want you to treat my home with the same care I would if I were there. This property is special to me and I want someone who values it as much as I do living there.”
The owner provides all the materials for the repair. He also provides a salary for the father, as this is his new job. If the father runs into any areas he is unsure about, the owner has provided him with names and contact information for experts in every field. The owner has also arranged payment for any services that might be needed.
The family’s only job is to live up to the standards set by the owner. If they do this, they are guaranteed a home, an income, and safety. But if they turn on the owner as the previous tenants did there will be consequences to pay.
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My story grew a bit as I was working on it. But this is what our Father asks of us. He asks us to live and love as He does. To “Be holy as He is holy.” To model our lives after Jesus. NO. Not everything in life will be easy but He will be with You through whatever comes. Our family in the story had to put the work in to remake the damaged house into a home again but the owner made sure they had everything they needed for that work. God gives us what we need to make over our lives; His Holy Spirit. With THAT team ANYTHING is possible!
Father God, thank You for the story today. You know how I’m struggling with this book. I feel overwhelmed and under enthused by all You have recorded here. I hear myself, on MORE than one occasion, asking “Are we done yet?” I looked, and no, we are not even close. But with You by my side, I KNOW I can keep going. I want to be a good steward and student. Help me rekindle a passion for Your word, even the hard parts. Thank You Father for carrying me through another day. I’ll look for my basket tomorrow and see what You put in it.