Burning Down the House

tim118

Dear Ezra and Lian,

The summer of 1986 I was 13 years old. My grandpa had gone to the nursing home to live. So my mom and dad sold our house in Collingwood, Ontario and moved to grandpa’s farm on the 13th Concession of Sunnidale Township. Our house was built by my grandpa around 1930 at the beginning of the Great Depression. He bought a parcel of his father’s farm (about 100 acres for $700). He recycled and reused the material from a loghouse on site and another old house. This was the house your grandpa grew up in. He lived there from 1944 to 1971.

When we moved to the farmhouse, there was only a dirt cellar, about 5 feet high. I was 6 feet, 1 inch tall. My dad gave me a character building job. I was to dig enough dirt and mud so that we could make a basement down there. We needed to pour concrete and make a proper floor. So for about the next 6 weeks, using only a round mouth shovel and a wheelbarrow, I moved dirt. The deeper I got, the wetter the soil got and the steeper the path up and out of the basement. Near the end of the summer I was approaching the limits of what I could do. Then Grandpa hired a guy about twice my age to help me finish the job. In only a couple days, we got everything done. The basement was dug deep enough so I could stand without hitting my head and we poured enough concrete for a functional basement.

That’s why I took you to see that house today. My family has a lot time, money, effort and memories in that house. This skinny, 120lb kid sweated all summer long to fix up that house. I showed you the windows we looked out as we watched the beautiful sunsets you can only see on a farm in Southern Ontario. I remember beautiful maple trees and walking our dog, Duke. I remember my face freezing as I walked half a mile in -40C weather to catch the school bus up at the Sunnidale/Nottawasaga Townline. I remember the cows mooing across the road. I can still see the beautiful lilac bush in our front yard.

This morning, weather permitting, they will burn it down and we will watch. Since Grandpa and Grandma sold the farm almost 8 years ago, the house has sat empty and been vandalized. Everything metal has been stripped out. All you will see will be dirt, tree stumps, broken windows and peeling paint. In the end it will be a big smouldering pile of ash.

“Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;” Psalm 127:1 All my efforts were in vain. However, this house is a metaphor for all our possessions. In the end, we lose them all. Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21.This old house is a real life example of that.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8

“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

Remember kids, you are rich. Whatever measuring stick we use, you wealthy. You are just kids. You haven’t done anything to deserve it. Never let it go to your heads. Whenever someone invites you into their house, never think you’re too good for them or their place. Whether a mud hut in Guinea or bamboo jhum house in Mizoram, be respectful. Pray God’s peace rest upon it. Remember that broken down house; the one your Dad, your Grandpa and your Great-Grandpa lived in? This house is so bad, its best use is as a training exercise for the Wasaga Beach Fire department. You graciously say “Thank you” and walk in. You kindly accept their hospitality and warmly enjoy their company. Be grateful for any roof over your head.

Most importantly, I want you to “take hold that which is life indeed”. Grab the everlasting Father and He will never let you go. That’s where real life is. It won’t burn to the ground.

This house burning is a gift. This a training exercise for me to let go of the things that pass away. I spent almost 13 years trying to hang onto a marriage. I spent way more time and effort trying to make that marriage work, than I ever put into 250 Morgan Road, Wasaga Beach. I let Mommy take God’s place in my life. People, like buildings pass away. Our souls are eternal.

God has placed eternity in your hearts. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) I want to invest in the eternal things in your heart. I will put my treasures in heaven that will never pass away. I believe digging dirt when I was 13 put some eternal truths in my heart. Watching it all be destroyed when I’m 42 is teaching me an even tougher lesson; I’m being forced to let go.

Your Grandpa and Grandpa used to have a record player. It was in the living room, the one by the front door that’s all smashed in now, the floor covered with wall boards. They used to play songs on it. One record was by Jim Reeves. If I could, I would play this song on that record player as the house burns down.

Love,

Dad

This world is not my home I’m just a-passin’ 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

Oh Lord, You know I have no friend like you
If heaven’s not my home then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

I have a loving mother just over in glory land
And I don’t expect to stop until I shake her hand
She’s waiting now for me in heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

Oh Lord, You know I have no friend like you
If heaven’s not my home then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

Just over in glory land we’ll live eternally
The saints on every hand are shouting victory
Their songs of sweetest praise drift back from heaven’s shore
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

Oh Lord, You know I have no friend like you
If heaven’s not my home then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore