By Brenda Black
“He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.” (Proverbs 22:11)
My house is not a palace. Oh, the man of the non-mansion is certainly the master and I am often treated like a queen with his love and kindness. But as for dimensions, our little home is cozy, quaint and suitable for two more than it is for twenty. But, fourteen of us played and prayed; dined and slept; showered and shaved; laughed and wept for nearly 48 hours straight! At times as many as twenty-three stood, sat or laid across every square inch of living space. And it worked! We were family, friends and strangers on Friday night. We were brothers and sisters in Christ by Sunday's end.
Pure hearts and gracious speech made the weekend delightful, even if one had to sleep with feet in their face or wait in line for the shower. Kind, respectful, flexible guests filled my home with joy worth all the clutter and crowdedness.
I lost count of the paper plates. I'm pretty sure they put away nearly a quarter of a beef, not to mention two gallons of ice cream, three pans of brownies, three gallons of milk and five pounds of tators! And with every bite, each satisfied grin, every sincere compliment, my heart was filled as my pantry emptied. I'd do it again in a heart beat!
There's something about the energy and joy in these young men and women that fuels my spirit. Their pure hearts, their gracious speech is evidence that they are friends of the King and that they love Jesus! Truly, to be in their midst is like being surrounded by Christ. I heard His laughter in Caroline's giggle. I saw His smile on Makena's face. I witnessed His compassion through hugs from Jordan. I saw His patience in Zach and His love for all creation in Janelle. I heard God's witty sense of humor in Caleb and saw His ability to turn strangers into friends through Laura. I took to heart Christ's faithfulness I saw in J.J. and fed on Christ's boundless joy through Luke. I watched my Lord practice forgiveness and sportsmanship in Cooper and Tyler and heard Him sing alto with the voice of Austin.
Jesus stayed at my house last weekend. He ate at my table. He slept on my floor. He hugged me and showed me love and appreciation and respect over and over. And I am blessed! Short nights, long days, dirty dishes galore and more wet towels than I thought I owned could not taint the pleasure of His company.
And just when I thought it couldn't be more perfect, I heard them sing and preach and watched these beautiful people worship. A praise band and collegiate preachers brought together for this one moment made our Sunday an offering fit for the King.
Luke pumped God's people when he proclaimed the powerful and supernatural love of God out of 1 John. Caleb took us back to Leviticus and into the Holy of Holies, then led us straight to the cross, revealing Christ in Old and New Testaments and His great sacrifice. Cooper shared from obvious sincerity, recounting the many ways this year God proved His sufficiency and grace. He challenged the congregation to live out 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Their willingness to serve, to speak out for Christ, and to worship joyfully sets a tremendous example for all ages.
My house is quiet, the furniture is back in place and the steady flow of cooking and cleaning has ceased. It looks as it did before they came, but something has definitely changed. I still hear the laughter and my home feels warm and wonderful. I am certain it is the lingering presence of the King.