There is Room in This Inn

September 15, 2010 | 27 comments

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
that holds
room
after room
after room.

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.

holy experience
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.

by | September 15, 2010 | 27 comments

27 Comments

  1. Graceful

    Love it, love it, love it! And you should hop over to Deidra's place today — she writes about something similar, although in a more metaphorical way.

    Gosh those kids ask the questions that go right to the center of things, don't they? And thank God for that!

    Reply
  2. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Headed over to Deidra's now. Thanks for stopping by Michelle. And yes, a child's questions cut to the core.

    Reply
  3. Deidra

    My heart's been turned inside out this past week, and so the tender part is showing and that is why this post makes me cry. You are beautiful. Let's get smaller together, shall we?

    Reply
  4. Renee

    What a great story, I love how we learn from our kids. They are so much smarter than we give them credit for.

    Reply
  5. KJ

    OK..your writing is great. How you put it all together…I would have summed it up in a few sentences but you gave up the picture, and the thought…"Do I do it for HIS glory or mine?"…and shame on me b/c I not only thought of myself but I thought of others at my church.

    So there…now who am I to judge?

    Oh, forgiveness is a wonderful thing.

    We are starting a new school year at my church tonight and I am teaching confirmation to 5th graders for the FIRST time. I am so excited! And I know I will do what I can to express just the thoughts you posted about today!

    Thanks!

    Reply
  6. Sandra Heska King

    I remember when my daughter would pray every night for the "box people." And now her daughter prays for them, and for our sweet Compassion child in Kenya.

    Sometimes I just want to board up my heart. Compassion hurts. But in the doing–is it for Him or to ease my own pain?

    Reply
  7. Amy Sullivan

    Ugh. For my glory or His?

    Now there's a question that needs some serious pondering. At times I truly think it is for His, and then I feel that tiny bit of self growing and growing, and realize that maybe it is for mine.

    Reply
  8. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Amy,

    That's EXACTLY what I'm talking about. I feel like so much of what I do is tarnished by the me, me, me that wants to creep in and steal some of the spotlight.

    Thank you for sharing here, for "hearing" me.

    Reply
  9. Kelly Langner Sauer

    omigoodness, I just got chills…

    Reply
  10. Lisa notes...

    I’m still much too big, too. What a thought-provoking story you tell. May we all be moved to listen to the questions and be brave enough to take the answers that God sends. And be changed by them.
    Thanks for sharing today.

    Reply
  11. RCUBEs

    He always offer so much more! What a beautiful post/message from our Lord through you. There….the proper credit I must give 🙂

    And like Lydia, may I also have that childlike faith, aside from becoming less and less…and more and more of Him! Glory be to God! Love and blessings.

    Reply
  12. Linda

    Hi,
    Just found youir blog while blog hopping!! Thank you for sharing and your inspiration. I have been blessed. Love the story. I am your newest follower.
    Blessings

    Reply
  13. apt3 design

    The part about the wood not being found at Lowe's or Home Depot…you slayed me, and so does HE. Been running too long, even avoiding reading your blog because it convicts me. Thanks, friend. oxo

    Reply
  14. Lyla Lindquist

    Loving this. You knew I would.

    I think mostly off point but I'm looking at this conversation between you and Michelle and Deidra and imagining the conversation you'll have, perhaps through your kitchen windows or over your back fence, when in those amazing houses you're all neighbors.

    And take a peek at Rev. 4. I didn't get much further, border-to-border days haven't stopped yet…

    Reply
  15. Linda

    I struggle with the less of me and more of Him daily. Self just has a way of pushing its way into everything.
    I love the way you talk with your sweet girl – your listening heart. It is a wonderful thing, I think, to grow with our children. Sometimes they just lead the way.
    I wonder too, Jennifer, about the rewards. I know that He has promised them to us – but I believe it is just so that we can give them back to Him. A double blessing perhaps, as we first do it as unto Him, and then give back the reward He graciously gives us.

    Reply
  16. Nancy @ Drawn In By Undeniable Grace

    Tears flood my eyes as I read this… especially the last line as my heart yearns for a reunion in Heaven with a dear friend and sister in Christ. Thank you for this line: "It will be in knowing that the rooms next door are filled with people who made it Home." Thanks for the reminder to keep on telling, [for God's glory] – it reminds me that someone once "told me", too.

    Reply
  17. Sara

    Shrink me more … Transplant my heart with His. It's so simple, a child can lead you there. Learning to walk in the simple, the child's faith, the life that simply beats with His.

    Thank you again.

    Reply
  18. bluecottonmemory

    Bedtime is such a magical time when words with big and little things are shared!

    God knows the desires of our hearts – so He knows exactly what kind of house to prepare for us. That takes away the pressure to love Jesus for crown molding,fire places, front porches. I don't have to worry about it – cause God has it taken care of – and He knows me.

    But I love how you said the "way to the rooms is Jsus." And about the neighbors – the neighbors will be so great – that we won't want to stay in those houses:)

    Reply
  19. bluecottonmemory

    Bedtime is such a magical time when words with big and little things are shared!

    God knows the desires of our hearts – so He knows exactly what kind of house to prepare for us. That takes away the pressure to love Jesus for crown molding,fire places, front porches. I don't have to worry about it – cause God has it taken care of – and He knows me.

    But I love how you said the "way to the rooms is Jsus." And about the neighbors – the neighbors will be so great – that we won't want to stay in those houses:)

    Reply
  20. Laura

    You too, Jennifer? So many nights I lay snuggled up against boy-skin with those same types of questions circling like stars. It's funny, there was a time when I thought I had all the answers. But the older I get, the less I seem to know.

    I like your answer just fine. It's a big big house!

    Reply
  21. Charity Singleton

    Those girls of yours, I just love them. And you, the perfect mama to them. These stories really touch my heart. They are so blessed to have the wisdom of your life.

    Reply
  22. Beth E.

    Oh, Jennifer, this post is beautiful. I love every word, but this part grabbed me and literally gave me goosebumps:

    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.

    What a mighty God we serve!

    Blessings to you, friend…

    Reply
  23. Jennifer

    I read a commentary a year ago that said perhaps what "rewards" we earn are so that we will have something to give Jesus, to lay before His throne when we enter heaven. Whether it's accurate or not, I like the thought that everything I do for Him on earth is still all for Him in heaven, too.

    Thanks for this post. I need to know others spend time wrestling just like I do.

    Reply
  24. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Linda and Jennifer — You both raise a really good point here about rewards.

    I'm going to dig into this some more in my personal study. I appreciate your thoughtful insights about these rewards being returned to the Giver.

    Reply
  25. Beth.. One Blessed Nana

    i just love this! Jennifer, you just always know how to make such a powerful point with even the little things. God works through you my friend – always!

    Reply
  26. Natalie

    I love this post! My nine year old and I often have deep bedtime conversations. I've blogged about them, too 🙂

    And I am asking myself these questions, too? What is my motivation? To whom am I hoping to bring glory?

    Reply
  27. Anne Lang Bundy

    If you happen to think about it, will you tell Lydia that this friend of hers hopes for smaller houses? I want to be as cozy as possible with the people I love, like your precious Lydia of the green marked Bible.

    And by the way, that verse that says, "In My Father's house are many mansions?" The Greek word simply means "dwellings"—a place to stay. I've no idea how we've made mansions of them. In the glorious paradise, they'll surely be more grand than any dwelling of Earth, no matter their size or style.

    Reply

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