by Joyce Long
Surprisingly the doorbell still works. But the shiny speckled brass doorknob requires its own special twist—pull forward a bit, turn hard, and pray. Soon guests walk into our entry, floored with small rectangular brown ceramic tiles etched in cattails. Yes, after 32 years a few are scratched and grout is chipped, but it works. Even though there’s a coat closet to the left, we take their coats to the guest room’s bed farther down the hallway. Another quick prayer: that no cat hair adheres to their jackets.
Standing in our entry, four choices greet our guests. The first left turn takes them past the main floor bathroom to the guest room. The next left leads to our three upstairs bedrooms and two baths. The right turn puts them in the den/dining room, our most classic area. Walking straight they head toward the round kitchen table centered in front of a window showcasing our tree-filled backyard, which includes a wooden play set built by my husband and my father 30 years ago. An almost florescent yellow wall frames the back window with black vinyl script, Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread. Our kitchen adjoins the sunken family room where my husband tries to hear the nightly news while I clash pans a few feet away.
This is our home, the heartbeat of our lives.
As I write this, our adult children and our 19-month-old granddaughter are just days away from walking through the front door to celebrate Christmas. I pray this is a special place for them, an icon of their childhoods.
They live differently than their father and I have. Our son has had six addresses since college. Our daughter—too many to count! From Mozambique, Kenya, Kansas City, Jerusalem, Colorado Springs, and most recently Cyprus, she has lived in rooms, basements, and houses.
When my husband, Al, and I worry about our children’s lack of home ownership, God reminds me of Peter’s admonition to the newly converted Jewish Christians living scattered throughout Asia Minor: “Dear Friends, I warn you as ‘temporary residents and foreigners’ to keep away from worldly desires that wage against your very souls” (1 Peter 2:11, NLT).
We are all temporary residents
living in a fallen world.
None of us should claim our homes as permanent. Christian or not, we are all temporary residents living in a fallen world.
Our primary task is not home ownership and its improvement but to avoid worldly desires that oppose what is eternally important. The apostle Paul begs the fledgling church at Philippi to do just that: “For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:18-20, HCSB).
While both of our two adult children pay rent, one understands the above principle, the other doesn’t.
Therein lies our ongoing prayer as parents: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 2:9-11, NIV).
Roots & Wings
In 1953 prominent newspaper editor Hodding Carter published a book whose title I like, Where Main Street Meets the River. I am fascinated by its title, one that suggests the contrast between stable normality with the continual flow of the river. Although I have not fully read it, this gem resonates with me: “A wise woman once said to me that there are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these she said is roots, the other, wings. And they can only be grown, these roots and these wings, in the home. We want our sons’ roots to go deep into the soil beneath them and into the past, not in arrogance but in confidence,” said Carter.
Besides concern for our children not investing in home ownership, my husband and I often wonder how much they esteem their past and their heritage. Granted, at thirty-something, they’re more preoccupied with the present and possibly the future than the past.
My husband and I sit at a different stage of life. Aging provides a different perspective, one of reflection rather than planning. But still we want our son and our daughter to understand their roots, their faith foundation, and what that can mean as they live out their lives. Legacy matters. Better to learn that sooner rather than later.
Jesus had the courage to defy
cultural and religious norms
to do the right thing.
From roots and wings, love and respect emerge. Jesus lived out that principle in His ministry. Unlike His Jewish counterparts, He never blamed folks for their illnesses. He neither condemned them for their shortcomings—nor did He overlook sin. Jesus stood out because he chose not comply with traditions and mindsets that kept folks from helping others.
Luke records in his gospel that during a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in a synagogue. All at once He stopped talking, called over a disabled woman, and put His hands on her. She immediately straightened up her bent frame and praised God. The synagogue ruler went ballistic, shouting that there were six days for work and no one should be healed on the Sabbath. Then Jesus called him and other religious leaders hypocrites. He noted that all of them would untie their ox or donkey and lead it to water on the Sabbath. “‘Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?’ When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing” (Luke 13:16-17, NIV).
Not only do we as parents have the responsibility to share Jesus’ salvation with our children, we need to teach them about his courage to defy cultural and even religious norms to do the right thing—no matter what. A spiritual legacy requires that.
Our homes, while comfortable and cozy, are temporary at best. Both my husband and I dread the day we move out and leave behind a lifetime of memories. But to quote Jim Reeve’s classic lyrics:
“This world is not my home. I’m just a-passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”
posted on January 29, 2018
Meet the Author:
Joyce Long is a former English/journalism teacher and communications specialist for Mount Pleasant Christian Church. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Center for Global Impact and lives in Greenwood, Indiana with her husband, Al. Her newest book is being published soon—Trinity: Walk in Love, Forgiveness and Peace. Find more of her writing on her blog (joycelong.com).