This is Not My House

We stood in the garage of one neighbor’s house at 5:50 this morning and watched the other neighbor’s house burn down. The family – two parents, three kids, and one very traumatized beagle – stood lined up across the front of the garage peering through the rain, watching as all their accumulated earthly wealth burned. It gave new meaning to the scriptures. It all burns. These are the castles we build while we’re here. These are the efforts that drive our days and haunt our nights. This. This, that smolders even now hours later as we look out the windows from our comfortable home across the street and think about having no silverware. No shoes. No keys to start the car with. No charger for our phones. It all seems so important, so vital to our existence. And you know what… it is. For now. But this is not our home.

This morning I stood with my arms around young Delaney and wondered if this family has laid up treasure in heaven. I wondered if they were counting that even then as they counted their earthly losses. I wondered. But I don’t know. I’ve been wasting my time building my little kingdom across the street, watching detached as they built theirs over on the hill. They have a boat that we secretly call the “S.S. Minnow” and a dog named Tess, but until this morning, I didn’t know the mom’s name – Marcy. We’ve been neighbors for 8 years.

I feel completely helpless and full of regret and it’s my own fault. If I had made my home their home long before now, they wouldn’t be standing in the other neighbor’s garage; they’d be sitting at my kitchen table. Maybe we’d be praying together and sharing the hope of heaven. Or maybe we’d just be sharing safe, familiar surroundings as the shock sets in. Instead, all my family can do is offer our help as strangers and detached neighbors do: with genuine concern, but without the relationship to back it up. And I am immeasurably sad.

Everything that was important in that house stood in the garage with us this morning. That is truth. They are the souls that could easily have perished had one neighbor not been up early leaving the house before dawn. For now, I can share the clothes out of our closets with the living, but that is a small thing compared to what I could have been doing to clothe what is imperishable with the hope of glory. For you, today, ask yourself and ask the Lord where and how you can be better prepared than I was to say, “It will be OK” and know that it will because you know, and you know that they know, that this may be their house, but this is not their home.