Dwelling Well

Charlie & co. 
(pic of Charlie with some friends last spring. Charlie is on the far left.)

Right now Charlie, our college freshman, is hanging with friends in our basement. Tonight, the ‘gang’ is at our home…they seem to rotate from house to house each time they meet. These friendships have been in place and nurtured for years now. Like most teenagers, they hang out and “chill” well.

A couple of days ago we went to a lovely wedding, a ceremony and celebration surrounded by supportive loved ones (Congrats Mike & Leslie!). Yesterday we served breakfast to some friends of ours (Yo, Stones!) who stayed overnight for a Bourne-a-thon (watching the three movies that feature the plight of Jason Bourne) and today I hosted a couple of friends for lunch (Hi Heather & Tracy!).

While in prayer this afternoon the words “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He was in the world, yet the world did not know Him ” came to mind. So, after prayer time I peeked at the Scripture passage this came from, it is found in John 1, within the verses of 9-14.

“Dwelt” is what stuck out, so I looked it up. In Webster’s online dictionary “dwell” has a few meanings: to remain for a time; to live as a resident; to keep attention directed (such as to dwell on something). Yes, Jesus did do all of these while on earth, didn’t He? He stayed for a time, became a resident and managed to dwell on/focus on God and His Will. The verses, though, point toward the first two meanings…being here, being among us.

Jesus did what friends do: dwell among. For friends remain for a time, they take up residence in our lives, they occupy a segment of our physical, emotional, social and spiritual space. Unlike family, we get to choose friends–we get to choose whom we invite into our space/our time/our life.

How did Jesus dwell with us? Hmmm…as I reflect on that, I feel like I didn’t dwell well at all with our house guests/friends these past few days, for when I think of His example, I think of being with them, being present to them, drinking them in and allowing myself to pour forth; giving them space and encouraging them to be themselves. An openness is needed to dwell well, I think, and I’m too guarded, to worried about what they might need (another glass of water? a fork?), what they might be thinking (eww, the sink is dirty!), whether I can keep conversation interesting (dead silence=death), instead of being present to what is really needed.

Charlie and his friends have a better handle on this dwell thing (maybe all teenagers do), for they just want to be together and care less about what is said, what is done. They really get to know one another and enjoy each other’s company– no one freaks out about the sink or forks. I think good dwellers have no expectations, they just come and be open to what is and find delight in what they encounter: each other, friendship.

Jesus did that, didn’t He? He dwelled well. He came, was fully present, was grateful just to be with us. Although He had an agenda, He didn’t freak out about how it was all going to unfold. Instead, He drank in His creation, found delight in us and, in our own best interest, He called us into new places spiritually. He came to heal us and set us free from sin and death–a true friend is He. I think if we were to ask those He encountered a way back then, I think we’d hear them tell us that just being with Him was the best part of Him being here.

Of course, the rest of the Scripture given has to do with the fact that people didn’t recognize Him. He came to His own and His own did not know Him. Can you imagine being in His shoes a second? Can you imagine going to those you love, those you know well, those you have sunk your energies into, those you’ve spoken with and had a relationship with and having them give you a blank stare? From what I can tell, Jesus went all out to say things like, “Can’t you see, it’s Me?” “Remember Me? I’m the one who has protected you; the one who held you as you wept; the one who loves you more than anyone else, ever; the one who created all you see. Can’t you see? It’s Me!”

How hard it must have been for Him. Of course, as much still happens today, doesn’t it? He still dwells with us, His Spirit came and remains, screaming for recognition. We give the blank stare, the ‘no recognition’ gaze. We cannot see…we, unlike He, are poor dwellers. We hear He is near, so we scurry about looking for a clean fork, we spin in a flurry to clean the linens. Like me with our guests, we realize He is there but don’t stop to listen, to drink Him in, to just be together and hang out.

The laughter is ringing up the stairwell. They are having fun, enjoying being together, just dwelling well.

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