I’m housebound more often than I am not. In the winter, the cold and ice often provide enough of a reason for all of us to stay inside and cuddle under a big fluffy blanket, watching Christmas movies in the deadness of February. Other days, it’s just me. I dress the kids, make sure they are fed and their teeth are relatively brushed, check their faces for day-old boogers, and send Lily on her big yellow bus to a school that seems way too big for her 35-pound five-year-old-ness. Elijah rides with dad, who walks him down that colorful preschool hallway to his smiling beloved teacher, who will help him write his name, learn to share, and teach him how to interact a little less like a monster and a little more like a socially adjusted human being.
Because I can’t drive, we have a system of various helpers picking up Elijah from preschool on the different weekdays. His preschool is walking distance, but most days, I struggle to make it from the bedroom to the kitchen. So we don’t walk. Not to mention the below freezing temperatures and single-digit wind chills. So, we have a system set.
The children end up where they need to be, and we have an army of individuals helping us fill in the blanks. But this leaves me with more alone time than I ever expected I would encounter. I’m someone who really values alone time. My mind and soul need space to breathe, and I thrive in the open, unstructured schedule of a day free of “to do’s”. I often tell people that I am never bored, and it is true. I have found activities the fill in the space of my empty house when everyone else is out living their lives.
A year ago, I remember watching a movie clip about an individual who was on house arrest. He created an exciting daily routine for himself, and he made the absolute best of his three years of confinement to his house. I chuckled at this scene, because I relate so much to the idea of being on house arrest. My illnesses sometimes force me into this place of “house arrest”. I’m not in trouble, and I believe the more appropriate term is “home-bound,” but in reality, there’s not too much difference. If someone gets a DUI, they lose their license. If someone (Megan) faints frequently and requires medications that alter their response time, they lose their license as well. The reason is different, but the situation looks strinkingly similar.
Sometimes, I have a hard time feeling like I am not being punished for something. But I know that I am not. I also know that our world can be as vast as we allow it to be. I have constant access to multiple musical instruments, to writing materials, yarn, and quite possibly an entire library of books at my fingertips, not to mention constant internet access. Also, I definitely require more rest than the average individual.
I am never alone, and my communion with God has grown vastly in my years of “house arrest.” Boredom and free time are necessary for children developmentally, but grown ups need this space also. Maybe it is the wonderful overwhelming grace of God, but in my relative confinement, my life has expanded beyond what I believed to be maximum capacity. I am living in an abundance that I could never have imagined before the freedom of life in Christ.
Eternity can be found in a moment, in a snapshot, or in a single tear drop. God has planted eternity in the hearts of man, and I believe that my isolation and confinement has opened me up to eternity in such a way that I can see heaven in the reflection.
We all have a choice. We can choose to see eternity hidden in our now, or we can see the limits and restrictions as chains that bind us.
We can embrace the fullness of the moment in the power of the Spirit, or we can squeeze our eyes shut in bitterness and resentment, choosing to be dissatisfied until we “finally get all that we want.”
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you walk through the waters I will be with you; When you pass through the fire, you will not be scorched. Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
This is the promise: God with us.
Why did Paul worship in shackles? Why did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walk around in the fire, cool and unscathed? Why did Daniel sit with the lions in peace? Why did Jesus go willingly and humbly to the cross to be sacrificed? Why did Stephen look to heaven and rejoice as the stones rushed at his body to take his earthly life?
Because they had already found eternity. They had discovered the secret to joy. It is simple: GOD IS WITH US.
God’s presence always expands our world. God’s presence always brings joy. It always brings peace. It always brings hope. And where peace, joy, and hope exist, there isn’t space for discontentment or bitterness.
Joy is not about absence of suffering and presence of material gain. It is not about being surrounded by people or being left alone. It is so much more simple, so much more divine. It is in Christ alone.
My home is not a prison. It is a gateway to paradise, because the Spirit of the Lord dwells in me, and I am here, in my home. My state of being primarily home-bound is not a punishment, but a divine opportunity. I am daily invited into intentional communion and worship of my Lord and King. It is filled with little tastes of heaven, even, maybe especially in the midst of my sickest days. There is no space for self-pity in my life, because I am so abundantly blessed and beloved. I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine.