Haunting Your Own House
First, a disclaimer, acknowledging that many believers feel Christian writers shouldn’t speak of ghosts, or tell ghost stories, unless they are Holy Ghost stories — which happens be the intent of this article. Nevertheless, if this doesn’t work out, I will accept my due chastisement and write something about kittens next time; but for now, know that I have been haunting a property in the south of Bonney Lake, Wash., for several months now.
Each morning various craftsmen arrive to work together on the construction of a beautiful home that will be finished sometime in October … especially if I have anything to do with it. While they work with deep concentration, a lone figure slips in and out of the rooms observing them with a watchful eye, like a glimmer of an apparition haunting the hallways of some great 19th-century manor house — catching visitors by surprise.
I knock on things, literally walk through walls (before the drywall at least — I have had considerable trouble since then) and, not without a little glee on my part, give people a moment of panic when they see me standing behind them — unaware that I snuck into my own house while their power tools were on full-throttle. As they clutch their chest gasping for air and pray something in Spanish, I bombard them with questions and concerns:
“Why is that wall there? We said no wall there, so why is that wall there? That wall better not be there when I get back here.”
"So what’s the rationale behind having the electrician wire everything, including the door to the office, BEFORE it has been cut for French doors — won’t that have to be done again?"
"Now that the pendant lights are in the right place, why is the island in the wrong place? No, moving the lights to the wrong place with the island doesn’t make everything in the right place."
Thus far, my favorite conversation occurred with the building rep who muttered a curse when I showed him the pictures of my sedan not being able to fit in the model home’s garage due to the placement of a safety post to prevent exuberant parkers from running into their furnace. Yes, I can tell by the word you just uttered that you see the problem as I do.
To be fair, the workers I have met have been cheery and appreciative when I bring Gatorade on hot days. The poor guy working to install the furnace in the garage, during a summer of record heat, looked like he was about to cry at the sight of an ice-cold beverage.
The reason for my hauntings is obvious — I want my family’s home and investment built well. I have spoken to many people who have gone through this process and have horror stories due to a lack of home haunting that began with, “If only I had been here more … .”
The metaphor of a house haunts the pages of all four Gospels. Jesus frequently calls people’s attention to the state of their spiritual house — their heart, emotions, relationships and connection to God. One of the first songs we learn is about a house. It’s based on Jesus’ teaching that “everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt. 7:24–27, ESV).
After being accused of working miracles through the power of the enemy, Jesus points out, “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house” (Mark 3:25–27, ESV).
If our “homes” have a mash-up of materials, conflicting floor plans and the wrong people for the job, we will collapse.
I’m not suggesting a sly perfectionistic approach with legalistic heart-inspectors scrutinizing our spiritual homes based on a variety of codes difficult to understand. My hope is in developing rigorous safety inspection practices to give us a working knowledge of what is going on in our hearts, that inform our relationships with Jesus and others.
Even with the glitches, the work eventually gets done well with some pleasant surprises too. The siding workers beamed as they told me how on our house everything “just fit” perfectly. We also discovered that our home will have the stone façade we initially thought we couldn’t have. Not everything you find in your heart is bad; you may see that Jesus has done some fine work there too.
Take time to prayerfully notice if what is going on in your heart contributes to a life soundly built on Jesus. Haunt the spiritual house of your heart with the help of the Holy Spirit so you don’t miss what Jesus wants to build in your life and end up having “your house left to you desolate” (Matt. 23:37–39).