GUEST BLOGGER: Phyllis Nordstrom
There’s just something about a house, a place to call home, especially if you own it. I wonder if that isn’t even truer for women. We furnish it, decorate it, entertain in it, and cherish the memories made in it.
How well I remember our first home. We felt like God had helped us find just the perfect one. Stenciled in old English script above the bay window in the dining room were the words, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Although the yellow two-story home needed a few updates, it was the perfect “fit” for us and our three young sons. We hoped to live there forever. We loved that house. It was ours. The first several years of our married life had been spent in a 36×8’ “trailer” during our college years and then had progressed to various rentals.
We moved in and for the next three years that house provided great memories. The boys learned to ride their bicycles and tricycle on the front sidewalk. John’s teaching assignment was in a school just five blocks further down on this street and each morning he and our oldest son walked to school together. We celebrated holidays and entertained family and friends.
But on this day, this house, my first house, would soon become only be a memory fro today we were moving. The night before, we had packed everything we owned into a U Haul. As I walked through the empty house one last time to make sure that we had everything, I found myself lovingly touching the woodwork, stopping to look out the kitchen window one last time. Then it was time to go. I locked the front door and slid into the passenger’s side of the car. The older boys were excited about their new adventure. No one noticed that I kept looking in the side, watching as the yellow house onChestnut Streetgrew smaller and smaller. We turned onto the main street and that’s when I lost sight of it altogether.
As we entered the interstate, I heard a whimper in the back seat. Turning, I saw that it was Philip, our youngest. “I don’t want to leave my grandma and grandpa. I don’t want to leave my church. I don’t want to leave my pastor,” he wailed. That’s when I realized that my 3 year old was leaving all that he had ever known. Now it was time to comfort him.
Illinoischanged toWisconsin. Interstate 80 became 294. We ate. The boys napped. And on we drove. Gradually all was quiet. The mixture of excitement of venturing from the known and familiar into the unknown weighed heavily on my mind. Reality began to set in, accompanied by loneliness. I thought of our family and friends left behind. And I thought of my house. The house I thought I would always live in. Needing comfort, I opened my Bible to Mark 10. I knew what I would find there, the reward for leaving family. I needed reassurance. I reread the story of the rich young man who had to make a decision about what to give up to follow Jesus. I continued with the disciples reminding Jesus that they had left everything to follow Him. I felt like that was what we were doing.
And then I read words that I had not remembered ever considering before, “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one has left houses or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.”
Houses? Jesus included a house along with all the relatives. I had to read it again to make sure that I had read it correctly. No man has left houses (our dwelling, the familiar, safety, my place of belonging). In that one word, the sadness of leaving my first house was validated. That verse gave me permission to grieve—for a house. He understood my connection to this animate object. He understood. He cared. It was going to be alright.
Closing my Bible, I leaned my head back and began to softly hum,
“O yes, He cares, I know He cares
His heart is touched by my grief.
Though the days be weary, the long night dreary
I know my Saviour cares.”
Epilogue: God kept his word. Even during our 4 year stay in St. Paul, God provided us with a larger home with exact same floor plan to rent while we lived there. In the decades since, He has provided us not only with various houses, but also many “mothers” and “fathers” to teach and guide us. We now have thousands of “brothers and sisters” in various states who have enriched our lives. And it would never have happened if I had not been willing to give up my first house!
Life is a series of letting go. The last house that we will relinquish will be this house of flesh. When that day comes, we will move from mortality to immortality. Jesus has gone ahead to prepare that new house for us.