It's been a little over a week since Grandma headed back to the mountains after two weeks at my house. And while I love having her here, there is a lot of work that goes into preparing your home to house a guest.
We've all been there. We have a few days or, if we procrastinate, a few hours until company arrives, and we're looking around noticing all of the dust bunnies, the cobwebs, the stain on the couch cushion (tip: turn it over), the spill in the fridge, and all the other little things that go unnoticed until that moment you fear that someone might be looking. This sense of details is heightened exponentially when it's grandma. At least, when it's my grandma. Because she'll come in and clean my stove if she so feels the need. And well, we wouldn't want grandma thinking I live like a slob!
And it's always the same. Company arrives, and we wipe the bead of sweat from our brow, walk to the front door, suddenly remember and rip our dirty apron off, stuffing it under a corner of the couch cushion we just turned over to hide the stain, then gracefully opening the door and saying, "Hi! Sorry about the house...it's a mess."
When let's be honest - that's the cleanest it's been since....the last time you had company.
All this cleaning is supposed to make everyone feel at home. But we're looking around trying to find that thing that's always on the table that we thought we'd put away and now need but can't for the life of us remember where we put it, and now our guest is almost afraid to touch anything or make any mess because - surprise! - this isn't what their home looks like, either. Nobody lives like that.
So why is it we're so concerned about cleaning our house? If it's a good enough friend to lodge at our house, it must be a friend who also knows we kinda live there. And a week from now, a month from now, twenty years from now when you reminisce about the visit, you won't be talking about a cobweb in the far corner of the basement; you'll be talking about the time you spent together and the laughs you shared.
Knowing all this is true, why do we make our greatest Friend stand on the porch far-too long as we last-minute pickup, sweep, dust, mop, stuff our apron under the couch cushion, take it back out, get back to cleaning, SOS, scrub, wipe, vacuum again, buy a new couch, and take knitting classes to figure out how to darn our socks and mend our welcome mat while He's just standing there knocking, waiting, longing to come in and see us?
We keep our most gracious guest out in the cold while we keep peeking through the window at Him, frantic-eyed, pleading, "Don't come in! The house is a mess!"
We turn around and look into our house and see the scratch in the floor that we never got around to repairing, the pull in the rug, the bundled mess of cords behind the entertainment center, the fingerprint we just now put on the window while waiting for Him to arrive, and all of the little things that make this a house not meant for Jesus.
And He's just standing there. Because He won't come in until He's welcomed. But He's anxious to come inside.
He's waiting at the door, and we're inside thinking there's no way we will ever be ready. We're looking at our nicks and scratches, our pulls and tears, the bundled mess we often live in, the marks we've left here and there...and we think somehow this lessens what we offer. He peeks inside and all He sees is a life that's lived. If we're all being honest, His house doesn't look like we think ours ought to, either. Nobody lives like that.
Wanna know about nicks and scratches? Look at His brow and His back. Want to know about pulls and tears? Look at His side. Want to know about a bundled mess? Look at His grave clothes. Want to know about marks? Look at His hands. This is a Man who knows what all that looks like. He knows it's what your life looks like; it's what His life looks like. And He still wants to come in. Because He just can't love us on the other side of the door.
That's all He wants to do - come in and love us. Embrace us and embrace this place we're in, whatever it is. He's not looking around in the corners, in the refrigerator, behind the entertainment center, or on top of the stove. He's looking at one thing: you. As much as we're stressing about all the little things we're sure He's going to see, He's standing there patiently waiting just to see...us.
Finally, we relent and resign this life to what it is. We approach the door too worn out to even care about the apron and open the door exhausted. With all the grace we can muster, we gesture Him in. "Sorry about the house....it's a mess."
And He throws His arms around us and holds us like we haven't seen each other in twenty years and just smiles. "It's a beautiful mess. How are you?"