“My Dwelling Place” ©

I used to love the show “Extreme Home Makeover”.  Lives were changed in just seven days.  It started with a story and a huge wrecking ball that came to demolish the old ailing house.  When it was done there was no evidence of a dwelling.

The debris was cleared away and a new foundation was poured.   Exterior walls went up and a roof was laid.  The interior began to take shape and then the decorating began.  At the end of the show the family returned to see a home that was beyond their wildest dreams.  The bus pulled away revealing the work of many hands.  A tour into each room revealed special touches made especially for their family.  At the end of the show keys were placed in hands  as the last words were spoken “welcome home.”

I loved watching things take place in that show. My favorite part was seeing the astonishment on the faces of the families as they realized that all they saw was theirs.  Broken down dwellings were transformed into beautifully decorated brand spanking new residences and all of it belonged to them.  The keys they held opened the door to a new life.

I’m realizing more than ever that this is my story.

I remember the days of study.  I would be the best of the best.  My striving would get me the sanctification I had been told would happen if I cooperated with God.  I’d been taught that at salvation I was justified but that in order to be sanctified I must learn to obey. So help me God I would learn to obey.  I began to try to make the old me better.

I was told that my sanctification would be an ongoing process.  I would continue in it until the day I died.  At some point when I reached heaven I would be complete.

But that’s not really how it is.

Sometimes I wish I hadn’t studied so much.  It often makes it harder to see what you really don’t know.  It took me a while to get there but somewhere in these last years God has awakened me to things I knew not of.  Scales are falling off of my eyes now as I find my way into my reality.  Nothing I do will ever make the old me better.

The day I met Jesus the wrecking ball showed up.  The broken down dwelling of my flesh was torn asunder.  It’s what Jesus meant when He said, “it is finished.”  “The old has gone, the new has come.”  The day I met Jesus a new dwelling was put in place.  A new life began.

His words pierce out in declaration as He hands me the keys to life, “Welcome home, dear Jewel, welcome home.”

The truth is when the Creator of this world invaded my being I was instantly declared righteous, holy, godly and pure.  I was sanctified.  That is my reality.  It’s not an act of behavior which demands obedience, it’s an acceptance of the gift that has been so freely given.

He invites me to dwell in what has been done.   I have been declared righteous even on my worst day.  He invites me to mature into what has been pronounced over me.

Baby steps are made leaving the desire to manage behavior behind causing something to shift inside me.  Sin is losing it’s lure.

The truth is I am astounded when I realize that I am interwoven with Jesus as one.  I want to live that, more than anything, I want it to be known.

Though the God of the ‘suddenly” invades my being, maturing isn’t an easy process.

I remember when my boys were young and the growing pains set in.  They cried out often especially when it came time to sleep.  Their legs ached to the point of great discomfort.  It was all for good yet nothing about it felt good.

I have often felt the layers of flesh being exposed to be peeled away from me.  At times leaving them behind has often felt awkward and wrong.  Yet the old must go.  I am not the same person I was a year ago.  Slowly but surely I am maturing.

Years of striving for something that was already true leave me in awe of the God who does not relent.  Nothing is wasted in His economy yet He would not settle until my heart was free to step into my new dwelling.

I’m learning to live in that new place, moment by moment.  Some days I get lost, other days I feel at home.

His words are my constant in these days as they repeat in my head to tell me their truth.  “Welcome home, dear Jewel, welcome home.”  I am astonished as I realize this truly is my dwelling place.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty” Ps. 91:1

©copyrighted:  2012; Julie L. Todd
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Trying to Remember…..©

It’s been 16 months since I got the phone call.  “Jewel, I’m coming home, I’ve been laid off.”  We had moved to this little town for that job.  There wasn’t much more here as far as jobs go.  I sensed we were embarking on a road we had not yet walked.  Little did I know that the journey would take us down the road it has.  It’s been about much more than provision.  It’s been a time of revelation unlike any other where the floodgates have been opened so that healing might flow.

Sometimes I find myself looking ahead.  I want to see what’s around the bend.  I see the road in front of me but where will it end, I wonder.  It’s a dangerous place for me to go, for to be quite honest, trying to see into the future often makes me afraid.

Monumental things have happened in my life yet often I forget.

Why is it so hard to remember?  It’s not just me, I know, because the scriptures are full of people forgetting.  The children of Israel saw God do miracles never before experienced and yet it didn’t take much for them to lose track of it all…

I need to remember today.

I was pregnant with my 3rd born.  I wanted a house with a fenced back yard for my children. We had outgrown the small condo we were renting.  Houses were beyond our budget and many had no fence.  I began to doubt until one conversation led to another.  Strangers offered to rent their home to us for $275 a month less than their mortgage payment.  We ended up buying the house a couple of years later for only the amount they owed on it.  When we resold it 6 years later we reaped a bountiful harvest allowing us to buy our next place.

I remember one day when there was a knock at our door,  “I am a friend of a friend,” he said as he handed us the envelope.  Inside were several hundred dollars in a money order.  Did they know that our washing machine had just broken?

There was the time we had $7.00 in our banking account when the woman slammed into my car totaling it.  We were barely making it through the dry season of David’s small pool construction business.  The insurance company gave us $1600 which wouldn’t buy us much.  Two days after the wreck 5 out of 7 of us woke up with a stomach bug keeping us home from church.  Someone spoke up after the service in our absence. “The Todds are in a hard place.”  People gave generously.  We had no idea… until the phone call came.  “We’ve collected $3,000 for your family.”   Days later we bought a used car that lasted us 13 years.

There was the time when the phone call came, “There’s an envelope on my desk with your name on it,” he said.  We were clueless.  David went down to pick it up.  When he opened it he was overwhelmed at its contents.  Inside lay 8 $1,000 money orders made out to us.  I had been freezing milk jugs of water to keep our refrigerator cold.  I went out that day to buy a new refrigerator.

Or there was the time years later when I had just had it out with God.  I had been asking Him to show me how to pay for the tires our car desperately needed, yet all resources were depleted. There was no money for tires. I walked into the church reluctantly.  As I stood to force myself to worship the envelope fell to the floor.  It had been slipped into my lap.  Inside was more than enough to pay for the tires.  He knew.  I fell at His feet in humble gratitude, overwhelmed at my forgetfulness.

I remember back in 2005 I had been asking God for an old discarded laptop that no one was using.  I didn’t need much just something I could write on.  Weeks later the phone rang, “I feel like God is telling me to buy you a new laptop.”  “I believe He has prepared a ministry for you.”  They didn’t know.  He did.

The day David was laid off a perfect stranger overheard him tell what had just happened to a friend in Starbucks.  The next day the gentleman showed up and handed our daughter who worked there an envelope with $500 in it.  He felt God telling him to give it to us.

I’ve gone to my mailbox finding envelopes with checks, gift cards and cash providing getaways for our anniversary, clothes for our children, meals out, even movie tickets.  There’s the vacation at the beach, the car of my dreams, the Honey Baked turkey that I longed for.  All were given, just because.

These are just a few of the many stories of God’s care scattered throughout my life, yet I so easily fear what might be on the horizon.

“Do not forget” He told the children of Israel.  It was their demise.  I cannot let it be mine.

Today, I remember. This is the God who holds my tomorrows.

©copyrighted: 2012; Julie L. Todd