Since 1937, a little house stood at the northeast corner of Walsh and Clogston streets in Vicksburg Indiana. It wasn’t a big house, really, just 3 original rooms and a couple of additions throughout the years, totally 1500 square feet. It had been the dwelling place of several families, including mine. I grew up in that home and in that little community, kind of like a Mayberry upbringing, if you will. Just recently Gale and I were able to purchase the property with the old house still standing. After 56 years, we were finally landowners! Our dream and plan is to live out our retirement there, the last stop on what we hope is a long journey!
Since July 5th, Gale and I, my brother and sisters, brother in laws, nephews and friends have labored to bring the house down. Almost every Saturday was spent ripping and tearing the old house apart. The man hours spent would tally into the hundreds! This past Saturday was an emotional day as we finished the process of taking it down. What was once a house is now a grassless hole in the yard! If you never saw the house, you wouldn’t miss it if you drove by. It isn’t there anymore. All that is left are memories and dreams.
I’m reminded of a poem my grandfather would quote entitled, “The House With Nobody In It”. The 6th stanza of Joyce Kilmer’s poem (1914), goes as such...
But a house that has done what a house should do, a house that has sheltered life,
That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife,
A house that has echoed a baby's laugh and held up his stumbling feet,
Is the saddest sight, when it's left alone, that ever your eyes could meet.
As we labored to bring the old house down, My brother-in-law stated, “It’s a lot faster to bring in down then to put it up”! This got me to thinking about something that is near to my heart…the local church! As we dismantled the old house, we found many repairs and additions, places where windows and doors used to be and where windows and doors had been added. We discovered real craftsmanship and repairs which my carpenter upbringing often referred to as “cobbled” together. All in all, how many hands did it take to build, repair and maintain this house? We’ll never know! But the one thing we know is that people cared enough about the house to keep it up and keep it livable. The same is true about the local church. It takes so many people to make sure the church remains open, livable and inviting. Everyone has the ability to be a part of something valuable in our changing society. Some are skilled in the arts of teaching and preaching and music and leadership and service. Some are skilled in encouragement and support and praying. We are all able! What is it that God has gifted you with that you can use to ensure that the local church, our church, stays strong, inviting, open and alive?
As we worked on bringing down the old house, there were family and friends who never actually picked up a hammer or crow bar or even carried an old board to the fire, but they supplied food, water and encouragement. They were just as important as the ones doing the actual labor. Team work! Every person on board! That’s how we accomplished the task, and this is how we accomplish the task of seeing to it that the Church continues to do exactly what God established it for…to be a place of rest and refuge. What can you do? Are you willing? Can you help?
“Unless the Lord build the house, the laborers labor in vain”! Psalms 127:1