July 14, 2014

The Life of Faith

Over a five-year period we rented out our country home to five different families.

Our first tenants were a recently married couple with two boys from her first marriage. They were so excited about the house in the country that they barbecued and slept there before they even moved in. A year later, with a heavy heart, the wife texted me. She had booted out her husband for drug use; she could no longer afford the dream house.

Our second tenants, a married couple and their son, showed up just in time, and we thanked God for providing them. They had moved from up North; the husband was disabled; the wife said she worked as a U.S. marshal. “You mean like in Stratego?” I asked, reminiscing about my favorite childhood game. The U.S. marshal had a drug dog and set up a security system in the driveway.

I liked the U.S. marshal, but began to notice strange behavior. When I delivered a refrigerator, she was talking like a little girl. When we asked to see her dog perform, it just lay there. Was it possible she was fighting the drug war from the other side? The U.S. marshal’s husband was always screaming at her, the second month’s rent was late, and suddenly I couldn’t reach either one of them. Her dad suddenly texted that she was in the hospital. When she finally called, she said they had to leave and begged and begged to have her deposit back, even some of it.

Our third tenants didn’t come by choice. A devastating tornado had destroyed their longtime country home just a mile away. An older couple, they were as sweet as they could possibly be. Their insurance paid their rent for six months, then, all too soon, they left for a permanent home. We wished they could have stayed forever.

Our fourth tenants followed quickly behind: an excited blue-collar husband and his white-collar wife. They stayed two weeks. The wife didn’t like mud on her feet.

Our fifth tenants swept in on a cloud: a Southern belle and a hopeful remarriage. Big, big plans. Suddenly she was alone again.

Did you notice the themes in these stories? Every single family, except the tornado family, couldn’t quite afford the dream house. Every single family, except the tornado family, left because of painful choices (usually the man’s). The tornado family experienced devastation, but not by their own choosing. In reality, their home was the only one that endured.

Jesus stood overlooking the Sea of Galilee, where people built houses. In dry, summer months the entire lakeshore took on the appearance of rock; even the sand looked like rock. Home builders who weren’t careful thought they were building their house on rock when in fact they were building on sand. Wise builders dug down to bedrock to get good footing for their homes, to anchor their foundations.

When winter rains overflowed the banks of the Jordan River, which fed the Sea of Galilee, houses built on surface sand were swept away. Houses built on bedrock stood firm (see Matt. 7:24-27).

Christian families, is rock or sand under your home, or some of both?

Let’s not make this too difficult. Simple changes can immediately strengthen our homes and families.

1. Stop trying to buy more than you can afford.

2. Run (run!) from short-term worldly pleasures in all their forms.

3. Stop trying to build on both rock and sand.

Men, a final word, since we’re often the foundation setters: I recently asked a group of moms what their dream houses looked like. Consider what they said:

  1. A house of love and smiles.
  2. Clean and filled with laughter.
  3. Laughter, family, love, and food.
  4. No phones, no TV, just sitting, talking, praying, loving.
  5. A pain-free home.
  6. Everyone at the kitchen table.
  7. Jesus in every crease and corner.