Jacob doesn’t live here anymore. Today is his birthday and he turns 25. He is as fine a young man as I know. He has an incredible heart for God, a deep compassion for people (especially the hurting), and a fire for life. He knows and loves music and is giving himself to that passion. And he is bright, a profound thinker. But he doesn’t live in our house anymore.
Although he moved out 3 or 4 years ago I have to keep reminding myself of that. Partly because the walls still echo with his laughter, in quiet moments I can still hear him working out a chord progression on the piano or refining a bass lick in his bedroom, and partly because his junk is still all over the place. His bedroom (we still call it his bedroom) is piled high with extra guitars, Ohio State ski parkas, barely used college textbooks, and unopened offers for new credit cards. One side of the garage is dedicated to his baseball card collection, several dusty amps, and a chopped Harley Davidson that he only lets me drive in the neighborhood.
He doesn’t live here but we are a repository for the memorabilia of his past life and he frequents us often. He has an uncanny ability to drop by when his mother is just taking supper from the stove or a pie from the oven. Apparently he can hear our washing machine across town because he never fails to pop in and ask if he can throw a few things in since we are washing anyway. And he somehow can detect that short window of opportunity between when I put a prized take home box from my favorite restaurant in the fridge and when I get home at the end of a long day to finish off that morsel I have been thinking about all afternoon. (Do you know the pain of settling in front of the TV and opening an EMPTY styrofoam container?) He doesn’t live here but his past, the fun, the funny, the painful and purposeful, all of that is still here and he moves in and out of it, though less and less.
In Romans 8 verse 10 Paul says, “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.” If Christ is in you…your body is dead. Really? Shouldn’t it say unless Christ is in you your body is dead? Or before Christ is in you your body is dead? I mean what about resurrection, and life eternal, and “he who believes will never die?” What about all of the good stuff He promises? Peace. Never thirst again. Love. And don’t forget the all important, “blessings from heaven, good measure, pressed down, overflowing.” When Christ is in me shouldn’t I be driving a Cadillac, never have an ache or pain, make all A’s on my report card, and have my house stay supernaturally dust free?
But Paul says, “If Christ is in you your body IS dead.” No maybes or ifs. Just, your body IS dead. What is that all about? My body is not dead. I’m very sure of that because my aching knees speak to me every morning, and my waistline is growing like crazy. My body might be getting old but it’s not dead.
It seems to me, like Jacob and our house, this body of mine is not where I live anymore. Oh, my junk is scattered all over. The fingerprints of my past, both good and bad, smudge every window and every wall. Most of my possessions are connected to this earthly body somehow and I move in and out of it quite a bit. But I don’t live here anymore. This body, in fact this whole material space and place that we call life is just a temporary passing through spot. I have to drop in to check the mail, adjust the thermostat, and weed the flower bed. I still have to pay bills, take care of the office, and DVR American Idol. But this is not my house.
The song writer said, “This world is not my home. I just a passin’ through. The Lord’s prepared a place somewhere beyond the blue.” When Christ lives in me, as I grow more familiar with His voice and His movement in me, I become more and more aware that all of the things that used to seem so important are dead to me now. Not in a morbid, melancholy, macabre way. I still enjoy the maintenance and the memory of this world. In fact, I am probably enjoying it now more than ever. But my focus, my heart, my very life is somewhere else. Does that make sense?
Jacob brings so much joy to us all of the time. He is full of stories about work, dreams concerning Michaela, and rantings and ravings about things that no one can fix. He has a place here, in some ways a responsibility to his mother and me. But he is building a life, his real life, somewhere else apart from this house. And as bad as I hate to admit it, the older he gets the more real that life becomes for him and the less important this one is.
In the same way, since Christ is in me I am busy living a righteous life there with Him and less concerned with the mundane stuff of this body. That Spirit life becomes more real every day. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I get all worked up about this temporary place. How am I going to make the car payment? When will that neighbor get his trash can out of my driveway? What am I going to do about that balding spot on the back of my head? (Okay, that one IS important.) But when I really stop and think about it I remember that Christ is in me and that other body is dead.
The life that is alive, the Spirit life, it is so much better than that old body life I used to live. Paul describes it this way in Galatians 5, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control.” Sounds like a pretty good life to me. So I am still connected to the body and all that it is connected to, gravity, aging, rainy weather, worry, but that is not where I live. I live in the Spirit world and it is full of hope and possibility with no restraints or constraints. I live in Christ and He lives in me and there “I bear fruit.” (John 15) I keep my face fixed on Him and the life that He has for me and everything else, even Jacob eating my leftovers is just incidental. And the amazing thing is that Christ then gives life back to this old, dead body of mine. (But that verse 11.)
Well, life is good. I hang around in this body of mine but I live, really live, in the Spirit of Christ that makes all things blessed. And on top of all that, I have Jacob who drops in every now and then to remind me that I am not as smart as I think I am but I did begat one pretty terrific son. You know what, he’s right.
Mike, This is such a great post!