By Wes Comer
I haven’t parked my car in our garage since ever.
Actually, I think there was a time, when we were first moving in, that I backed part of my van in to unload some things. Things that, I can only assume, are still there, along with a variety of other stuff (all necessary to our survival, I’m sure) which has collected over the years.
I really hate going in there, if I’m being honest. It’s a physical manifestation, probably, of some deeply rooted psychosis and inability to deal with things. (Who knows. I try not to think about it.) Unfortunately, not going in there isn’t an option. That’s where our deep freeze is—i.e., where we keep the ice cream. So I have to go in there.
Really, it’s not as bad as I’m making it out, but with six kids you can imagine the amount of stuff we have amassed over the years. For example, we have a wall lined with totes filled with nothing but clothes. And despite my best efforts, the kids continue to grow, which means I have to periodically rearrange, add to, and remove various items and shuffle the totes around. Our life feels like some twisted, live-action version of the game “Tetris,” where we’re always trying to make room for things. (Even with the kids themselves. Do you know how many homes are built for families our size? Approximately zero.)
Jokes aside, it is true. We’re constantly pushing, packing, hauling, selling, dumping, and moving various piles of “stuff” around. All of us.
Our lives are filled to overflowing in almost every area. Our homes are full of stuff, our calendars are full of activities, our church lives are full of responsibilities, and our minds are a cacophony of pop culture references, to-do list items, work concerns, and Pinterest projects.
The book of 2 Kings, chapter 4, records an interesting story of a Shunammite woman and her encounter with the prophet Elisha:
“And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither” (2 Kings 4:8-10).
The Shunammite woman constrained Elisha to stay and eat with her and her husband. This is visitation. And this is the kind of relationship many of us have with God and His church. We offer our worship, and will take in the words of the man of God periodically, and then we’re all on our way. It’s nice and tidy, and doesn’t require us to rearrange anything. Church is church, and home is home.
But this Shunammite woman wasn’t satisfied with that. She wanted more than visitation. She wanted habitation. You do not get habitation easily, however. You have to make room for it. In the Shunammite’s case, this was literal. She had her husband build an addition on to the house so Elisha would have a place to stay every time he came to Shunem. For her and her husband, it was worth upending their domestic life, rearranging their home, and putting their schedule at the mercy of the prophet’s. Nothing was more important to them, apparently, than his presence in their home.
See, we may say we want revival, and may even take certain actions to prove it to ourselves. But we must examine—and be honest with ourselves—whether those actions are the kinds that bring visitation or habitation. For example, we may pray desperately for a period of a week or more for God to move in our church. But do we have lives of prayer? We may study for a message, but when did we last study simply to know the Author a bit more? Those actions aren’t bad, mind you. Visitation, of course, is better than nothing. But God desperately desires habitation.
The enemy is constantly seeking to fill our lives to prevent this, I should tell you. He knows the power that will be made available to us if we ever really make room for God, so he busies himself with filling our lives. Not even with sinful things. That’s the greatest trick of all. He fills it with things that seem almost worthwhile. Soccer games, practices, piano lessons, leadership courses, seminars, conferences…anything is better, in the enemy’s mind, than empty space that could be repurposed into a Prophet’s Chamber.
Sometimes the enemy fills our time with things to ask God for, odd though it sounds. The Shunam-mite, however, didn’t ask anything of the prophet. She simply made room for him, and in so doing, received what she wanted more than anything in the world—a new soul.
Seek Him. Make room for Him. And the revival will follow.