The "American Dream" probably has numerous variations, but one of the common elements that many dream of is to own a home. The feeling of value and the right to do just about whatever one desires is something many of us long for and many are realizing. There is something about a home that nothing else can match.
Houses contain the stuff of our lives, furniture, books, beds, clothing, cars (if you have a garage) and the like. But our homes are more than the containers of our stuff. Homes have character; they are plain or fancy, have a few rooms or many and have multiple floors or are a single level. But homes are more than architecture. Homes are places we personalize with paint and decor inside and out. But homes are more than this. What makes a home?
One of the things we associate with our homes is the relationships that are nurtured and maintained there, including family relationships, friendships and relationships made through hospitality. Homes are where so much of our life happens. "Going to grandma's house" when we were kids was probably more than just the familiar smells of fresh-baked bread and pie. It was a place we most likely associated with love and acceptance.
Building a home is a big job. It is costly, time consuming and trying when a snag in the plan happens. When it is done and the papers are signed and our name is on the title, it feels worth the trouble. Like the physical structure, building a house on the inside, with the relationships and healthy maintenance of those relationships, is something that must be worked at. What an empty feeling it would be to build the structure but have nothing to put in it.
God is very interested in our homes. He is very aware of our need to fill our homes with good things, principally the good and healthy relationships we all need. He is willing and able to help us if we but ask him.
Metaphorically, the Bible often speaks of the home. The emphasis is more on the inside than the outside. For instance, Proverbs 24:3-4 says "Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches."
Wisdom, understanding and knowledge are all necessary to build a house worth living in. God is able to help us with all these necessary things if we find them in short supply. In order to stay married to our spouse and to keep healthy and loving relationships with our children, we need help. A "broken home" is not about busted plumbing or leaking roofs, it is about broken relationships.
It seems we have too many broken homes these days, a result of not enough wisdom, understanding and knowledge. This is where God wants to make a difference for us.
In order for a house to serve us well, it must withstand the forces of nature that threaten us. Cold, wind, rain, etc. are what a house is supposed to protect us from. The same is true for the relationships in our home. When the storms of life beat upon us, the strength of what we have built will be tested.
In chapter 27 of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells a story of a wise man and a foolish man, both of whom built houses. The foolish man built his house upon the sand and the wise man built his house upon the rock. Both were pretty happy with their "American Dream" until the rains and floods came. The house built without a strong foundation fell with great calamity, and the house with the rock foundation withstood the great storm.
On a trip to the interior part of our state this summer, I was driving through the local neighborhoods and noticed some of the homes and buildings sitting askew and tilted at odd angles. Some of the houses were especially nice looking, but were victims of permafrost below their foundations. Because of the lack of preparation in putting the foundation in, those houses will be literally broken in time.
Psalm 127:1 says in part,"... unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it ..."
When it comes to building your home, let the Lord guide you. Just as the physical structure of the house requires knowledge and skill, so does building the inside of the home. Don't let your American Dream become a nightmare! Allow God to teach you how to love and care for those in your own house. It starts by giving him an invitation and making him a welcome guest every day. Sweet dreams.
Stephen Brown is the pastor at Kenai New Life Assembly of God Church in Kenai. He can be reached at 283-7752.
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