Yesterday I got to watch something truly amazing during my lunch break. Our neighbors down the street had purchased the house directly behind them that had been vacant and empty for years. Their intention was to buy the house and tear it down so that they could add a back yard to their property.
The house needed to come down. It had been an eyesore for years. A late addition staircase on the outside of the house to an upstairs apartment was pulling away from the house. The siding was falling off. The house was no longer fit to serve as a dwelling for any family.
I have to admit, as a guy, watching the house come down made me feel like a little boy again playing with my Tonka Trucks. With fatal power the tractor and claw tore the house apart bit by bit. I risked the cold and opened a window so I could hear the sound of the breaking wood and metal siding crashing to the ground. Within an hour, the two story house was brought down in a dusty pile of rubble – it was truly remarkable. All my two-year old could say as he watched with me was “broky-house”.
Still, the husband and father in me could help but feel a little pull at the heart string. When the claw tore off the roof and light broke through the windows, I saw that dilapidated old house as a home for the first time. The thought came to me, “Someone once called that their home.” Christmases were celebrated there, birthdays, anniversaries. Tears were shed in sorrow, laughter and dancing in times of joy. Children might have played under mother’s feet while she made dinner. Even as my heart raced watching the building finally collapse, I could help but feel sad for the memories that lay amongst the ruins.
What’s to keep our home, our church, our community from falling apart, like that old house? Someday will the bulldozer come to level all that we’ve worked so hard to build. Try as we might, we can work hard to build strong homes, to start the right programs for our church, to bring good business and education to our community, but when we are gone, will it all fall apart? Our days are short when compared to the grand picture of time, and our strength goes seldom past the reach of our arm. How can we know that we are building something that will last?
Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” If we rely on our own strength to build these things for ourselves, our works will never stand. But if we trust in the strength and goodness of God, they will stand the test of time. God is the one who will provide for our families, our churches, and our communities. James tells us that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” Isaiah reminds us that “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains for ever.”
One day, the house that we live in will come down. As much work as we put into it, it cannot stand forever. One day, the church in which we worship, and even the denomination that we are a part of, will cease to exist. Someday, even our own community where we live will be gone or changed so much we won’t recognize it. And yet, “we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor 5:1).
I long for the house of God. Jesus comforts us with the hope of His Father’s house in John 14 saying, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” I know that there stands a house that will never fall, a house where I am always welcome.
Audio Adrenaline has a song called “Big House” whose lyrics I will end with:
Come and go with me to my Fathers house
It’s a big big house with lots and lots a room
A big big table with lots and lots of food
A big big yard where we can play football
A big big house Its my Fathers house
All I know is a big ole house with rooms for everyone
All I know is lots a land where we can play and run
All I know is you need love and I’ve got a family
All I know is your all alone so why not come with me?