When I was a little girl, and people talked about Jesus coming to “live in your heart,” the first thing I thought of was I Dream of Jeannie. You might not consider that very godly, but, hey, I was a young girl. I imagined myself “the bottle” and Jesus’ own Holy Spirit, my personal genie, who would help me and grant all my desires, while tucked neatly away in an exotically decorated (and supremely comfortable) room in my heart.

As I grew older, of course, I came to realize that the function of the Holy Spirit was a bit different than I had first thought. I realized that His setting up housekeeping in my heart was no guarantee of easy times, or a “yes” to every prayer. He was there to be a teacher, a comforter during difficult times, and a guide on the path toward wisdom.

But in all my (almost) 50 years, I think I’ve embraced a major tenet of my faith only halfway. If you read the last line of that last paragraph, you’ll see that every description I listed was ultimately about me. A teacher to ME. A comforter to ME. A guide for ME. And He certainly is all those things. But it occurred to me that Jesus had a whole lot more in mind when He made the arrangements for His spirit to fill our hearts.

He removed our heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh. He took away the old and made us a new creation. He didn’t do that so He’d have a nice new place to reside, staying within easy reach if we needed something; He did it so that He’d have a place to LIVE…live HIS OWN LIFE through US…through our INDIVIDUAL GOD-GIVEN TALENTS that make us uniquely equipped to fulfill the purpose He has for us…a purpose that can only be accomplished by uniting His life with ours.

He knew that we would endure an undisclosed amount of time in this broken world and be physically separated from Him until Glory. But He made provision for that so we wouldn’t have to live without Him. He didn’t leave a shadow of Himself, or some “genie” representative in His stead; He left HIMSELF.

100% Jesus: skin provided by willing, redeemed messes of humanity

He still has work to do here, and we are His hands and feet – not just working along to make our “inner-Jesus” proud (which will straight up wear a person out), but to realize that it isn’t about what we’re doing at all. It’s about the fame He is claiming for Himself through us as His vessel.

Our days are short, and certainly, as a Christian, “to die is gain,” as we can look forward to an eternity with our Jesus. But, without knowing an actual expiration date, and seeing lives end seemingly too short everyday, my eyes feel somehow more open to the first part of that scripture: “To live is Christ.” Not my life with a “genie in a bottle,” but my soul LIVING HIM, until that day.


“For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 ESV
Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 MSG