We have a couple of empty bedrooms in our house. At one time they were occupied by our kids, but for the last few years they’ve sat empty except when they’ve been temporarily occupied by visiting family or friends. A quick change of sheets, dust and vacuum, lay out fresh towels and the rooms are ready for the next occupants.
Recently we’ve been preparing these rooms again—but we’re not exactly sure when their new occupants are coming, nor when they’re leaving. We think they’re arriving this Monday—but they were supposed to arrive last Monday and didn’t. They are coming to Canada for an indefinite period—homeless because of violent conflict in their home country that has driven them, along with many others, to search for a place of greater stability and safety. They are staying with us until they can find more permanent housing—but in a tight, expensive housing market that could mean days, weeks, or months.
Preparing for their arrival—a family of four who have lived with upheaval and uncertainty for months—requires different preparation. Yes, the rooms need to be tidied up, but this time the drawers and cupboards that have accumulated ‘this and that’ (tucked away for some eventuality), also must be cleaned out. No one wants to live out of a suitcase for weeks or months at a time. Space must be made.
When we’ve been asked how well we know these ones who will live with us, we have to be honest that we don’t know them well at all. They are recommended by a mutual friend; they share some common priorities, and most importantly, they are disciples of Jesus Christ. On our few phone calls, they’ve seemed lovely.
But are they quiet or noisy?
Are they night-owls or early-risers?
Do they prefer to play games or read a book?
Would they rather go for a walk or go for a coffee?
Preparing for their arrival is requiring us to step into uncertainty—we don’t know what we don’t know. Space must be made.
Preparing a place for them in our home, and in our lives, requires a certain laying down of assumptions and expectations. We’re laying down the right to a somewhat peaceful, quiet home; for a season it will be interrupted, and we will discover a ‘new-normal’. We’re laying down the right to personal space; for a season there will be more people in the same space. We’re laying down control of our schedule & calendar to support their integration into our Canadian context. We’re inviting in—into our lives and our rhythms. Space must be made.
They come with no jobs and perhaps no transferrable skill set. They come with a passion for the mission of God and His work among some of the least-reached peoples on earth. Their pockets are mostly empty, but their hearts are largely full. Having left everything behind, they need a new network of care; a new community of intercessors; a new band of financial supporters. Space must be made.
Jesus is a Space-maker
As carefully as we are making preparations for these ones to join us, it pales in comparison to the careful preparations that Jesus assures us he is making for us.
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’ -John 14:1-7
Reading this scripture again helps me remember that I’m just camping out here. My real home is being prepared by Jesus. Whatever discomforts I experience on this ‘camping trip’ of life are just inconveniences. One day, I will be welcomed fully home.
Jesus is busy making space for me—starting when he denied himself, putting aside the comfort of his eternal home to come to earth in full humanity, to walk among us.
Space was made for us.
Jesus prepared the way for us to be with him through his suffering and death on the cross, followed by his powerful resurrection from the dead.
Space was made for us.
Today Jesus intercedes on our behalf in the conversation of the Trinity, advocating for us and ensuring our place in the family of God.
Space is being made for us.
The sacrificial and eternal hospitality of Jesus Christ makes our hospitality to this family seem trivial in comparison. He has made ultimate and eternal space for me.
I am learning to be a space-maker like him. How about you?
Lorna Johnston is the Diaspora Ministries Leader at Outreach Canada. She leads two national teams--Simply Mobilizing Canada (SMC) and Loving Muslims Together (LMT). She works with teams of diverse and experienced leaders and ministries across Canada to alert and activate the church in Canada to the changing opportunities to engage God's mission right here in Canada.