I recently confessed to both of my teenage daughters my sorrow for not having built the family dream house that they have heard about their entire lives. They are 18 and 19 now and they still occupy a small bedroom together. It is so small that if we didn’t have bunk beds they would probably have to climb in through their window to enter the room.
“You know, Daddy is sorry that he was never able to build the house we always talked about. I wanted, by now, to have you waking up in the morning in your own room looking out your window to see trees and sky.” They both responded with an “It’s ok Dad” which gave me little relief for, you see, I still have a Wish-Dream.
Loss of investments, personal failure and a predilection all my life of taking jobs that do not pay very much has stifled my ability to build the house. And there are other things besides the house that I have on my list that have never been accomplished. In these I have failed or have been providentially hindered. I am left seeing what is not there, and knowing what is missing. I am sure that you know how I feel. And this where we all can find ourselves calling for another round, drinking in more regret while we consider the what ifs.
But believing in the loving sovereignty of God I am deeply comforted and relatively satisfied. There is always more that I want and want to accomplish but (thankfully) never to the forgetting of what I already have. Cramped as they may be in their tiny room my daughters have seen the world through books and travel and relationships. They know that there is an invisible realm—a kingdom that manifests its presence through the Wind, the Holy Pneuma transforming the hearts and lives of men. When called upon, they rise to help others dutifully and with cheer. They are rich in friendship and wealthy in experience and in exposure to the world as it is and how it can and how it should be.
This, by God’s grace, I have given them…and it is better than square footage. They live within the environment of a sacred community that is sustained by the One who created all things. I have found it true and can testify, unless the Lord builds the house, the life, the community, they labor in vain…
What my girls actually have is more than my imagination could ever have conceived. Our lives are so much more special and spatial than my wish-dream for them; and for my whole family and all the families that dwell with us. The parameters and scope of our lives constantly expand in both the visible and the invisible universe; physically and spiritually.
There are many people who accomplish all that they have set out to do and I pity them. There are many more who live their lives believing that they are the have-nots and that this is ‘just how it is’. I pity them too because there is so much more for everyone. And I am not talking about the unbelievers—I mean people in the church.
What everyone really wants is to be happy. And too often happiness is defined by what you have or what you want. That is the illusion based on the lie that the apostle Paul warns about in his opening chapter in Romans. “They…exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.” The illusion/lie is ascribing worth to your dream, your way, more than to the worship of God. Seeking first the Kingdom of God allows for the prosperity of Job and the poverty of Lazarus but surely both found themselves, at times, chaffing at God’s providence in their lives. We have plans—and plans are not bad in themselves, if fact, they can be very wise—but God has plans too.
So, I see that my family is rich in some ways and poor in others. And here is where I think we all should consider our respective wealth. For I do believe that there are ‘riches’ that God wants all of His children to have and financial worth and social standing do not factor here. But peace, joy, love, contentment, shared life, wisdom, patience, godliness, kindness, virtue…these cannot be bought or bartered for.
The Lord promises food, clothing and shelter to all who seek His kingdom first. Sometimes the floors are marble and sometimes packed earth but if the heart is right, then heart is right.
And just so that you know, I haven’t given up on building the house (don’t tell Angela and the girls). If our fortune changes and the Lord is willing, I have plans.