And make it ready
in the field;
build your house.
These lines leap off the page of my Bible, as if embossed. Curious, mystery words. There is room for multiple meanings in these phrases, to move around and settle. And even when you dig into the original Hebrew, you only come up with more intriguing ambiguities. "Prepare" can also mean "be established in." Work can mean "occupation" or "business", but is also used for God's creative work in Genesis, which sends my brain in a whole other direction. Not to mention "house," which can mean "family."
They catch my attention, because I have been so taken lately by the desire for a dwelling; something of permanence and beauty in a very ephemeral and sometimes ugly world. A place where Christ's forever-kingdom can establish a grasping tip-toe hold until the whole thing comes down firm-footed in the new heavens and the new earth. The Son of Man had nowhere to lay his head. But He is also the Son of God, and the earth is his footstool. We watch and wait for the heavy tread of heaven upon our little clods of earth.
And till then, we yearn. Oh these weeks of waiting, punctuated by feverish activity, fresh hope, little victories, and disappointments. Why did sign on for this again? The second guesses and self-questioning inherent in those seasons of our lives known as transition times. (Are they all transition times, after all?) Four accepted purchase agreements, and three fall through. Did we hear, reckon things aright? Only the fourth has stood the test of rigorous inspection, appraisal, approval, consent, assent, authorization, green light, go-ahead. The banks can't be too sure these days.
So, in lieu of "building a house" immediately, we were left for some time to "prepare our work outside." Or, as a commentator rephrases: "diligently attend to thy business without doors, whatever it is." Business without doors. The past two months, all of our life has been without doors. We have been living, working, loving, and learning without doors, walls, windows, or property lines of any sort. The effect, as usual, has been curiously liberating and restful. We have lived happily, richly. Our time has been spent working hard, supporting one another, enjoying people, remembering what is first in our hearts. And in so doing, we have had the opportunity to set aside more than a downpayment.
Afterwards, then, build your house. And we have nearly reached the "afterwards."