About fifty yards from my home we have an old red barn containing a few goats, a donkey, a couple raccoons, an opossum, some chickens, ducks and a slew of barn cats. Most of the cats were collected from an inner city alley, while some drifted in from neighboring farms and fields. At times, we see stray cats by the road and call to them, trying to bring them to our barn. Sometimes we succeed. More often, these cats run away, preferring to survive on their own rather than risk trusting a stranger.
Inside my home we have eight house cats, several of which were once residents of the barn. A few of these cats spend most of their time outside, while others are almost always in the house, lounging on the furniture. All of the cats, whether they live in the barn or in our home, belong to our family. We care for every one of them–providing food, water and shelter. While we love them all, we do not have the same relationship with each one of them. Some lurk in the shadows of the barn, watching us as we put out their food. They never approach and run when we call to them. Some draw near, curious but untouchable. Some allow us to pet them and run to us when we feed them. A couple come to the house and look in the window but are afraid to come into our home. A few have dared to enter. One stays only in our basement, and a couple come and go as they please. But a few have stayed close by and rarely go outside. They bask on our furniture and sit on our laps. They invite affection and return it. One, and only one, sleeps on my pillow every night. She left the barn and adopted us as her parents, and she is like a precious child.
So it seems is the body of Christ. Some believers furtively watch for God and slink about the corners of His church, fed by God daily but never coming to know Him. Others draw near when it is time to be fed. They quickly withdraw again when it is time to give back to the Lord. Others allow God to enter into their lives, but only so far. They prefer to live their own lives–following their own will, eating what they catch–but turning to God when times get tough. A few Christians enter into God’s courts and live in His presence. Some of the Lord’s children draw close to Him all day long, basking in His love and care, and loving Him, while others take quick vacations from His presence. A very few sleep on God’s pillow every night.
The Lord loves each one of His people. He even calls to those who have never known him, inviting them into His presence. But God cannot force us to love and trust Him. He cannot draw us against our will into His presence. He leads us but does not force us. His door is open, but too often we are not. He feeds all His people, but He desires us to draw close to Him and share the intimate moments our lives with Him. God desires us to come into His presence and stay there. He would have each of us lie with Him, on His pillow, each and every night.