To say that it was once a grand old house would be an understatement. I came across it on a country road and was so drawn to its stately architecture that I turned around and pulled into the barely visible gravel drive. Parking the car, I stepped out to take it all in.
Standing knee-deep in grass and weeds, my eyes traced the details of its weathered gray and white structure. A porch spanned the front and continued to one side of the house; creating a sense that it had been designed to welcome both family and friends. Detailed carvings were evident in strategic locations around the porch beams and screen doors; a testimony of a craftsman’s hands. Over-sized windows, both in height and width, allowed light to stream through its now broken panes of glass, casting shadows inside that mimicked the empty panels. Large, uniquely shaped rooms boasted tall ceilings, a well-used fireplace and an inviting ~ though deteriorating ~ stairway, which I never explored from my outside survey.
My thoughts wandered as I tried to imagine the life that was once contained within its walls. Slipping on my best Norman Rockwell glasses, I envisioned a woman re-hanging freshly laundered curtains in the sparkling windows and men working the vast farmland that stretched in every direction. I speculated about folks talking on the porch and children running into the kitchen having their senses flooded with the smell of baking bread. I visualized warm fires that glowed in the evening until night called the residents to retire to the rooms at the top of the stairway; all to begin again the next day. But one thing didn’t have to be imagined. Whoever had lived in that house knew joys and sorrows, abundance and hardships, hopes and disappointments; for that is a common thread of us all. And so is the ultimate realization that life here is brief.
When my Rockwell glasses came off, I felt a little twinge of sadness at the condition that stood before me. It was a haunting reminder of an era past. The people were gone, the fields were wild and the home was in disrepair. But in the reality of the setting, God ministered to my heart with an understanding that no matter how grand the journey, this is not our permanent home.
The Bible speaks to this very issue in 2 Corinthians 4:16. “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”
Can anything be more reassuring? We, who are in Christ, have life in the truest sense. Free to enjoy the blessings and responsibilities of today; secure in the promises of eternity. That perspective changes everything. No longer is our purpose to attain only houses or land, or to gain fame or fortune. It shifts to knowing Jesus and living for the One who is our home.
Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” (John 14:1-4) Jesus is the Way. And He is the Truth that helps us in our understanding and the Life who guarantees that we will never be desolate because His Spirit dwells within us.
So … let’s hang the curtains, enjoy our work, talk with friends, laugh with children, share our table and share the Gospel as humble recipients of His grace. Whatever our hands find to do, let us do it as unto the Lord and know that, at the journey’s end, He has promised us an eternal home that will be unmatched in glory and untouched by time.