My spirit longeth for thee Within my troubled breast;
Although I be unworthy Of so divine a Guest.
Of so divine a Guest, Unworthy though I be;
Yet has my heart no rest, Unless it comes from thee.
Unless it comes from thee, In vain I look around:
In all that I can see, No rest is to be found.
No rest is to be found, But in thy blessed love;
O, let my wish be crowned, And send it from above.
I have been a guest in a variety of homes and perhaps you have too. I have experienced hospitality and sacrificial service from many of God’s people in the form of meals, snacks, cool and hot beverages and just a quiet place to rest.
Today’s poem, penned by John Byrom (1692-1763) has also been adapted as a Christian hymn expressing a deep desire for a close, abiding relationship with Jesus Christ.
What does it mean to have Christ ‘dwell in our hearts through faith?’ Ephesians 3:14-21 contains Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian congregation for this very request. Kneeling before the Father, this pastoral leader, pleads that God, out of His glorious riches, would strengthen the believers with power by the Holy Spirit resulting in Jesus Christ dwelling in their hearts.
Robert Boyd Munger, a Presbyterian minister and professor at Fuller Theological Seminarysought to ‘flesh’ out this idea in a sermon he penned in 1954. The deliberate act of submission of one’s entire life to the will of God is an ongoing call for the child of God. Are we ever done ‘repenting?’ Have we ever ‘submitted’ once and for all? No! Daily we must offer our bodies as living sacrifices as a reasonable act of worship in view of God’s generous mercies to us.
Though fictional, I think Robert Boyd Munger has carefully sought to apply the truth of Christ’s rightful ruler over every aspect of his life. While you may disagree with some of his analogy, what process of daily surrender do you engage in as your response? I personally don’t think one sermon, one insightful devotional time, one engaging conference will conclude the process of ‘learning to obey everything Jesus has commanded us.’ (as the Great Commission demands!)
My Heart, Christ’s Home
by Robert Boyd Munger
One evening I invited Jesus Christ into my heart
and what an entrance He made! It was not a
spectacular emotional thing, but very real.
Something happened at the very center of my life
that night. He came into the darkness of my heart
and turned on the light. He built a fire on the hearth
and banished the chill. He started music where there
had been stillness, and He filled the emptiness with
His own loving, wonderful fellowship. I have never
regretted opening the door to Christ and I never will.
In the joy of this new relationship, I said to Jesus,
“Lord, I want this heart of mine to be Yours.
I want to have You settle down
here and be perfectly at home.
Everything I have belongs to You.
Let me show you around.”
The first room was the Study – the Library.
In my home, this room of the mind is a very small
room with very thick walls. But it is a very important
room. In a sense, it is the control room of the house.
He entered with me and looked around at the books in the
bookcase, the magazines upon the table, the pictures on
the walls. As I followed His gaze, I became uncomfortable.
Strangely, I had not felt self conscious about
it before, but now that He was there looking
at these things, I was very embarrassed.
Some books were there that His eyes were too pure
to behold. On the table were a few magazines
that a Christian had no business reading.
As for the pictures on the walls, the imaginations and
thoughts of the mind, some of these were shameful.
Red-faced, I turned to Him and said, “Master, I know
that this room needs to be cleaned up and made over.
Will You help me make it what it ought to be?”
He said, “Certainly, I’m glad to help you. First of all,
take all the things that you are reading and looking
at, which are not helpful, pure, good and true,
and throw them out. Fill the library with My
Word and meditate on it day and night.
As for the pictures on the walls, you will have
difficulty controlling these images, but I have
something that will help.” He gave me a full-sized
portrait of Himself, and said, “Hang this
centrally on the wall of your mind.”
I did just that and have discovered through the years,
that when my thoughts are centered upon Christ Himself,
His Purity and Power cause impure thoughts to back away.
So, He has helped me to bring my thoughts under His control.
The Dining Room
From the Study, we went into the Dining Room,
the room of appetites and desires. I spent a lot of
time and hard work there trying to satisfy my wants.
I said to Him, “This is my favorite room. I am quite
sure You will be pleased with what we serve.”
He seated Himself at the table with me and asked,
“What is on the menu for dinner?” I said, “Well, my
favorite dishes; money, academic degrees and stocks,
with newspaper articles of fame and fortune as side
dishes.” These were the things I liked – secular fare.
When the food was placed before Him, He said nothing,
but I observed that He did not eat it. I said to Him,
“Master, don’t You care for this food? What’s the trouble?”
He answered, “I have food to eat that you do not know of.
If you want food that really satisfies you, do the Will of
the Father. Stop seeking your own pleasures, desires and
satisfactions. Seek to please Him. The food will satisfy you.”
There at the table, He gave me a taste of joy of
doing God’s Will. What a flavor! There is no
food like it in all the world. It alone satisfies.
The Living Room
From the Dining Room, we walked into the Living Room.
This room was intimate and comfortable. I liked it. It had a
fireplace, overstuffed chairs, a sofa and a quiet atmosphere.
He said, “This is indeed a delightful room. Let us come here
often. It is secluded and quiet and we can fellowship together.”
Well, as a young Christian, I was thrilled. I couldn’t think
of anything I would rather do than have a few minutes
with Christ alone in close companionship.
He promised, “I will be here early every morning.
Meet me here and we will start the day together.”
So morning after morning, I would come downstairs
to the Living Room. He would take a book of the Bible
from the case. We would open it and read together.
He would unfold to me the wonder of God’s Saving
Truths. My heart sang as He shared His Love and
Grace for me. These were wonderful times!
However, little by little, under the pressure of many
responsibilities, this time began to be shortened.
Why, I am not sure. I thought I was too busy to spend
regular time with Christ. This was not intentional,
you understand. It just happened that way.
Finally, not only was the time shortened, but I began to
miss days now and then. Urgent matters would crowd
out the quiet times of conversation I had with Jesus.
I remember one morning running downstairs, eager to
be on my way. I passed the Living Room and noticed
that the door was open. Looking in, I saw a fire
in the fireplace and Jesus was sitting there.
Suddenly in dismay I thought to myself, “He is my
guest. I invited Him into my heart. He has come as
my Saviour and friend, and yet I am neglecting Him.”
I stopped, turned and hesitantly went in. With
a downcast glance I said, “Master, forgive me.
Have You been here all these mornings?”
“Yes, I told you I would be here every morning to meet
with you. Remember, I love you. I have redeemed you
at great cost. I value your fellowship. Even if you cannot
keep the quiet time for your own sake, do it for mine.”
The truth that Christ desires my companionship, that
He wants me to be with Him and waits for me, has done
more to transform my quiet time with God, than any
other single fact. Don’t let Christ wait alone in the
Living Room of your heart, but find the time to be
with Him every day, with your Bible and in prayer.
The Work Room
Before long, He asked, “Do you have a Work Room in your
home?” Out in the garage of the home of my heart, I had
a workbench and some equipment, but I was not doing much
with it. Once in a while, I would play around with a few
little gadgets, but I wasn’t producing anything substantial.
I led Him out there. He looked over the workbench
and said, “Well, this is quite well furnished. What are
you producing with your life for the Kingdom of God?”
He looked at one or two little toys that I had thrown
together on the bench and held one up to me. “Is this the
sort of thing you are doing for others in your Christian life?”
“Well,” I said, “Lord, I know it isn’t much, and
I really want to do better, but I don’t seem
to have the strength or the skill to do more.”
He said, “Alright, relax in me and let my Spirit work
through you. I know that you are unskilled, clumsy
and awkward, but the Holy Spirit is the Master
Workman, and when He controls your hands
and your heart, He can work through you.”
Stepping around behind me and putting His great strong
hands under mine, He held the tools in His skilled
fingers and began the work in me. The more I relaxed
and trusted Him, the more He was able to do with my life.
The Recreation Room
He asked me if I had a Recreation Room where I went’
for fun and fellowship. I was hoping He would not ask
about that. There were certain associations and
activities that I wanted to keep for myself.
One evening when I was on my way out with some
of my buddies, He stopped me with a glance and
asked, “Are you going out?” “Yes,” I replied.
“Good,” He said, “I would like to go with you.”
I answered rather awkwardly, “Oh, Lord Jesus,
I don’t think You would really enjoy where we are
going. Let’s go out together tomorrow night.
Tomorrow night we will go to a Bible class at
Church, but tonight I have another appointment.”
“I’m sorry,” Jesus said. “I thought that when I came
into your home, we were going to do everything
together, to be close companions. I just want
you to know that I am willing to go with you.”
That evening I spent some miserable hours.
I felt rotten. What kind of friend was I to Jesus,
deliberately leaving Him out of my life, doing things
and going places that I knew very well He would not enjoy?
When I returned that night there was a light on in His room,
and I went up to talk it over with Him. I said, “Lord, I have
learned my lesson. I know now that I cannot have a good time
without You. From now on, we will do everything together.”
Then we went down into the recreation room of the
house. He transformed it. He brought new friends,
new excitement, new joys. Laughter and music
have been ringing through the house every since.
The Hall Closet
One day I found Him waiting for me at the door. An arresting
look was in His eyes. As I entered, He said to me, “There
is a peculiar odor in the house. Something must be dead
around here. It’s upstairs. I think it is in the hall closet.”
As soon as He said this, I knew what He was talking
about. There was a small closet up there on the hall
landing, just a few feet square. In that closet, behind
lock and key, I had one or two little personal things
that I did not want anyone to know about.
Certainly, I did not want Christ to see them. I knew they
were dead and rotting things left over from my old life.
I knew they were still there, but I was afraid to admit it.
Reluctantly, I went up with Him, and as we mounted the
stairs, the odor became stronger and stronger. He pointed
to the door. I was angry. That’s the only way I can put it.
I had given Him access to the library, the dining room, the
living room, the work room, the recreation room, and now
He was asking me about a little 2×4 closet. I said to myself,
“This is too much. I am not going to give Him the key.”
“Well,” He said, reading my thoughts. “If you think
I am going to stay up here on the second floor with
this smell, you are mistaken. I will go out on the
porch.” Then I saw Him start down the stairs.
When one comes to know and love Christ,
the worse thing that can happen is to sense Him
withdrawing His fellowship. I had to give in.
“I’ll give You the key,” I said sadly,
“but You will have to open the closet and
clean it out, I haven’t the strength to do it.”
“Just give Me the key,” He said. “Authorize
Me to take care of that closet, and I will.”
With trembling fingers, I passed the key to Him.
He took it, walked over to the door, opened it,
entered, took out all the putrefying stuff that
was rotting there, and threw it away. Then
He cleaned the closet and painted it.
It was all done in a moment’s time.
Oh, what victory and release to have
that dead thing out of my life!
Transferring The Title
Then a thought came to me. “Lord, will You take
over the management of the whole house and
operate it for me as You did that closet? Will You
take my life and make it what it ought to be?”
His Face lit up as he replied, “I’d love to! That is what
I want to do. You cannot be a victorious Christian in
your own strength. Let me do it through you and
for you. That is the only way. But, right now I
have no authority to proceed since I am
just a guest and the property isn’t mine.”
Dropping to my knees, I said, “Lord, You have been
a guest and I have been the host. But from now
on, I am going to be the servant. I want
You to be the owner and the Master.”
Running as fast as I could to the strongbox, I took out the
title deed to the house describing its’ assets and liabilities,
location and situation. I eagerly signed the house over to Him
alone for time and eternity. “Here,” I said, “Here it is, all that
I am and all that I have, forever. I want you to run this home.
I will remain safely with you and be your servant and friend.”
Wow! Things sure are different since Jesus Christ
settled down and made His Home in my heart!
No matter what happens in my life, there is nothing
to compare to resting safely in the arms of Jesus!