The questions always come when the lights dim, and the covers are pulled up tight, and I slide in close to the girl in the quilted cocoon. We’re two hearts pulsing under cover of darkness, and maybe it just seems safest to ask the questions right here, when heavy lids blink at the ceiling.
“Mom,” she asks, “I was just wondering something.”
“Mmm-hmm,” I say, tracing shadows on the far wall, behind the spinning fan. And her mind is spinning, too — always spinning with questions of eternity.
“If I tell a whole bunch of people about Jesus, will I get a bigger house in Heaven?”
And her question renders me silent. I wish I knew my Bible well enough to tell her for certain, but I only started reading it a few years ago. I remember someone saying something once about earning “jewels for your crown,” but I’m too Word-illiterate to even know if it’s Biblical.
And so we’re like two eight-year-old girls laying in the dark, with questions churning. Except that I’m 38, and I’m the mama, and she’s looking to me for some answers.
But instead I ask a question: “What do you think, Lydia?”
“Well,” she says, “I think we might get better houses. But I’m not really sure.”
And I’m turned inside out. Her question cuts to the core. Makes me ask myself once again: What motivates me?
For every good deed, every check written, every meal delivered, every Sunday School lesson taught, every blog-post written, card sent, prayer uttered … am I doing it for His glory or my own?
Do I do the things I do because I want more for myself — the pat on the back, the accolade, the approval of the Father? As if I could somehow earn His love? As if there were any lasting value in man’s approval?
Do I want to make my name great? Or His?
I think that maybe God puts these questions on my daughter’s lips, just so they’ll linger once more on mine. That verse runs through my head again:
“He must become greater. I must become less.”
— John 3:30
I blink silent, under the covers. And right there, beside my daughter, I pray that God will shrink me more. I’m still much too big.
The fan’s still turning, and so are the questions.
I go to the only place that this Bible-illiterate mama can find any perspective at all: The cross. All of life finds proper perspective in the place where three nails meet the depravity of humanity.
My house in Heaven was built with that wood — priceless Calvary wood you can’t buy at Lowe’s or Home Depot.
“You might be right, Lydia,” I tell her. “We might get bigger houses. But I don’t think that’s the point of telling people about Jesus, you know?”
“Yeah, I know mama,” she says, and I draw her in closer.
Mama and daughter retrace the story about the manger-birth and the cross and the empty tomb and the command to go and make disciples. Before He died, Jesus told His friends about a big house with a lot of rooms. And the way to the rooms is Jesus. And by all means, go tell others about the Way!
And isn’t it something that Jesus came to Earth by way of a manure-scented manger, because there was no room in the inn? And in the greatest reversal of all time, He’s made sure the Inn of Heaven has room for all who know Him.
He made us for this … for the telling of the Inn
I uncurl myself from her side, and stand up to go, for it’s way past bedtime now. And I remind her that yes of course, the House will be spectacular, and it will have many rooms.
But we both agree on this: the greatest reward will not be in the size of the house or the quality of the furnishings. It will be in knowing that the rooms next door are filled with people who made it Home.
PHOTO: Doorknob from my childhood bedroom.
Today, I write as part of Ann Voskamp’s Walk with Him Wednesday series. Ann spent the past week in Guatemala as part of a Compassion International bloggers trip. Her posts will turn you inside out.