Thursday, September 2, 2010

An Old Abandoned House

As a child, I was always intrigued when we passed by an old abandoned house on a country lane we drove often to go my grandparent’s home. I would wonder about the family that used to fill it, the children that used to roam the yard, the parents or grandparents that at one time enjoyed the breeze on the front porch. I imagined old hound dogs lazily napping in the shade and could hear the sound of the wooden screen door slapping its frame as the family came and went. Disappointed at its condition, I would tell myself that surely someone still owned this lonely abode. Surely someone in the world appreciated the life that the home once held within its walls.

The overgrown weeds, twisted trees, and heavy vines made its outline difficult to see in the summer months, but when winter came and after the bite of the first frost, it was easier to see its form and its dilapidated condition was more vivid. Truthfully, I was a fearful of looking too closely in the winter, because it seemed so spooky. I remember closing my eyes on several occasions when we passed, afraid of what I might see.

Sometimes our hearts can become like an old abandoned house. There are traces of love and life once living within a shape of what used to be. As a home and its surroundings deteriorate quickly without TLC, our heart’s condition rapidly declines if it is neglected. In the perfect weed growing conditions of summer, thorns and vines can take root, thickets of small trees begin to grow hiding the dwelling that once was so welcoming to life and love. The vines and bushes take over, camouflaging the true condition of the house. The boards clamor to the ground, the porch begins to buckle, and windows shatter. Sometimes the door is blown open by the wind allowing anything and everything to wander inside. Our heart can become creepy looking to passers by after life has bitten it with its frost causing people to avoid us and look the other way.

I went past the field of a sluggard,
past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment;
thorns had come up everywhere,
the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins.

I applied my heart to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw:

A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest –
and poverty will come on you like a bandit
and scarcity like an armed man.
Proverbs 24: 30-34

It only takes a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of our hands in rest and our hearts will look like the picture this scripture draws for us. It’s encouraging to read the author’s words in verse 32 when he said “I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw.” We can do that, we are never too old to observe and learn a lesson especially in matters of the heart.

By the way, remember that old house that intrigued and scared me so? How ironic that my husband and I, many years later, purchased the land, tore down what was left of that old house and now our home stands in the place it once stood. Once again there is life, love, and lots of noise within it the walls of a home, a porch that beckons you to come and sit, bicycles in the drive, and a back door that slams shut as the girls come and go. I draw the line at the lazy hound dogs though! He can build a healthy heart in the place where an unhealthy one has stood.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26

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