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You a "winter visitor"?

I live in an area of the country where we get this influx of what are called "winter visitors" - those who flee the cold and brutal storms of the winter season in pursuit of the sunshine and leisure of life in sunny Arizona.  Along about October, recreational vehicles begin to be spotted with license plates announcing the arrival of our "snow bird" friends.  Slowly, but surely, the campsites and RV parks begin to fill, until a large community of these "birds" take up "semi-permanent" residence in our region.  Some of the folks who make Arizona their home year round don't exactly anticipate the arrival of these "birds" in warm fashion because they know the streets and restaurants will be busier, causing things to move at a slower pace, and it just gets a little more difficult to "live life" at our normally suicidal pace!  I just simply remind those who don't look upon their arrival as "terrific" about the fact they are only "semi-permanent" residences - come spring, they will begin to head back the way they came and alas, life at our normally suicidal pace will return! Isn't it just like us to complain about something "not permanent" just because it gives us a little extra pressure or work of existence?  I think we forget where OUR permanent residence is - IN God and therefore, IN a life of LOVE.

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.  (I John 4:17-18 MSG)

Truth is, we all have a tendency to be "semi-permanent" residents in this Christian walk simply because we cannot seem to settle into what God has declared to be our place of "permanent residence".  Since God lives IN us and we live IN him, we don't "pick up roots" every so often and just wander off into some region of life where the grass looks a little greener!  We settle in and honker down in this life.  That may mean some winter storms, but it also means some pretty beautiful springtime growth and summer maturing!  If we are constantly picking up roots and moving to where the "weather" always seems to be a little easier to endure, we miss the "tension" of winter in our lives.  This "tension" almost forces growth - so we don't get to the point of desire without a little "tension" being created.

Semi-permanent doesn't really produce the same things being permanent does. I could get a semi-permanent hair color added to my hair to cover over some of my grey strands, but the fact is, the more I wash my hair, the less "permanent" that "added color" really looks!  Why?  It doesn't change what is at the root.  It is only when something is "permanent" that it changes what is at the root - you cannot really change grey hair - it will always be gray right down to the root!  So, for us to really see love become the way we live and breathe, we need to take up "permanent residence" in Christ's love - in relationship with him - deep, intimate connection.  In other words, we let the roots sink in and we see what "permanent roots" will produce.  

When we begin to settle into our relationship with Christ, it soon becomes evident that he puts "in order" the things otherwise "out of order" in our lives. The idea of someone or something "having the run of the house" suggests there is a comfortableness in their presence.  When I go into a friend's house, I ask before I look in cabinets to find the water glasses.  The second or third time, I may just let them know I am thirsty and they will direct me to "help myself" since I know where the glasses are stored.  In time, the more I visit my friend's house, the more comfortable I get finding things, but this is still not my "permanent residence", so I am still not given the "run of the house" like I am in my own home.  The more comfortable w make Jesus in "our home", as when he actually takes up residence within us, he actually begins to "have the run of the house", so to speak.  "Run of the house" means a freedom to go where he wants, do what needs to be done, and then enjoy time with the one who is with him "in residence" - us!

Once we allow God to take up residence on a permanent basis in our lives, his love begins to affect us deeper than if we only casually "visit with" him on occasion.  Love is free to have its way IN us so it is free to flow OUT of us, as well.  If we find it difficult to "put down roots" in Christ, we probably just haven't experienced his love as deeply as he desires.  When we begin to first experience his love, especially if we haven't known much love in our lives, we might just find it a little difficult to allow anyone to be this "close" to the "real" us.  This type of intimacy is a little intimidating at first, but trust me, it is worth the exploration!  In determining where, and with whom it is we will commit to "permanent residence", we are actually allowing our roots to be affected by the place where they are sunk deep!  As long as we are just "winter visitors", our roots will never have a chance to be challenged by the tension of life.  No tension - no growth.  You want to see change in your life, set down roots deep into his love.  Then allow his love to begin to affect you at the deepest points.  Nothing will ever be the same once we determine to "root deeply" in his love.  Just sayin!

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