I’ve been given the assignment by my counselor to spend a few minutes a day for the next week thinking about all that I’ve lost, followed by thinking about how God has redeemed these losses in my life.
For most of my life I’ve been looking for ways to cope with what I’ve lost, and to find peace on my own, rather than inviting Jesus to come into those places of loss and give me His true rest. So I’m going to attempt to do this until next week and see what He reveals to me.
I’d love for any of you on this blog to join me on the journey to invite God into your own wounds and losses. Some of you are reading The Mended Heart By Suzanne Eller. I just finished chapter 6 this morning, and it helped me to see the importance of continuing to recognize that I need help on this journey, so I welcome your encouragement.
Heavenly Father, You are the only One who can see inside my heart and know what’s there that I haven’t grieved. I know you are with me and ask you to give me wisdom to begin this journey of healing with you. Bring those losses to my mind and allow me to grieve.
I don’t know why gingerbread cookies keep coming to my mind, but they do. My adopted father brought them home to me after business trips in a perfect white box from the bakery. They had raisins as their eyes and as buttons down the front of their bodies. The cookies always brought me excitement, not because they were my favorites, because I’d rather have had chocolate, but they let me know that my father had taken the time to think about me. Those were the days I looked forward to him coming home.
Most of my years up until this point, my house had felt like a home. It was a beautiful three story brick house in an upscale neighborhood near a country club. I’d find golf balls and tennis balls occasionally in my back yard. The yards in our neighborhood were perfectly manicured and full of flowers in the spring and summer, and I would ride my pink bike with tassels on the handle bars and a banana seat up and down the hills and visit with my friends. My bedroom had a beautiful white canopy bed covered with all of my favorite stuffed animals. My Barbie townhouse was on the floor, along with Barbie, Ken, and her pink convertible sports car; my most valuable treasures.
But then one day I heard loud voices coming from my father’s office, and I went to ask my Mom what was wrong. She took me quickly to the side and told me that he’d written checks that bounced and that he couldn’t afford to pay for his car. He was locked away in his office with a gun screaming at someone. My memories are not very clear after this, but I do remember being confused and asking her what a bounced check was. When she explained that it meant he didn’t have money in the bank to cover what he was buying, it sounded a lot like stealing to me. There was talk of the Sheriff coming to get him, and I became very afraid.
Mom told me to stay in my room, and I did. Later that night, my Mom came quietly into my room and told me to be very quiet and follow her. She said my uncle was coming to get us to take us to his house where we’d be safe. My father was still in the house and we needed to get away.
I don’t remember what I took that night, but there wasn’t time to get much. As we drove away that night, I had no idea of all that I was about to lose.
It was only a couple of weeks after that, that I learned I’d never live in that beautiful home near the country club again. Not only had the bouncing checks resulted in the car being lost, but also the house, and all of my toys, even my bike. My father had lost his job as the vice president of the bank, and I had no idea where he was.
All the safety and security of my home and family was lost in one fell swoop. I was confused and angered by the people at the bank who’d taken all of my things. I remember riding by a house in town and seeing what looked like my bike in someone else’s yard. The loss was great and nothing in my life would ever be the same again. Thus would begin a journey into the darkness and I wasn’t even ten years old.
I had to grow up fast. My days of riding my bike down the tree lined streets of my beautiful neighborhood were over, and I’d never see my friends from there again.
It felt like the foundation of my life was washed away like the sands on the ocean shore when the tide rolled in. I learned that life wasn’t safe, parents couldn’t be trusted and all our most precious treasures could be gone in the blink of an eye.
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.
As the years have passed, after all I’ve lost I’ve come to realize that it’s easy to build our houses on the wrong foundations, especially in America. We are bombarded with messages that tell us to be the most beautiful, talented and successful people we can be. But when we reach these goals then what?
My adopted father reached them in his life. He’d gone to college, worked his way to pretty much the top position at the bank, had a beautiful home in the best neighborhood, and provided himself and his family with the best of everything. But somehow it just wasn’t enough. He began to drink and spend more money than he had, and it resulted in losing everything.
Once upon a time he’d been a little boy, too. His own father had died when he was just a kid. He’d struggled with a drug addiction, and he’d watched his own dad inject needles into his arm. Obviously, whatever he’d worked so hard to obtain in his own life hadn’t been enough either. I imagine my adopted father felt the same yearning that I did for a peaceful home.
It is clear to me that my adopted father and his own father had built their lives on something that had failed to fulfill them. And when the storms of life came they’d indeed suffered a great fall.
The redeeming qualities of all I have lost, is that my losses have caused me to search desperately for the answer to the question of what I really should be building my life upon.
And it’s definitely not in what I can see, but rather in an unseen hope.
Let’s jump back to the previous verse, before Jesus talks about the foundations that we should build upon.
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Jesus has just finished talking about the path being narrow and few finding their way. He’s told us that false saviors are going to come and the only way we’ll be able to recognize them is by the fruit they bear.
Jesus has made it clear that many will be deceived. Which means there are a lot of houses built on sinking sand.
So what is the rock to build our lives upon? Jesus says it’s trusting Him and obeying His commands. And what are those commands? At the very heart they are calling us to love Him and love one another.
And I realize the greatest loss in my life wasn’t the house, the car, or even my toys, but rather love and a real home filled with peace. Somehow my father, just like his father before had ended up on the wide path of the world in pursuit of what he could get on his own.
I wonder if my adopted father ever really knew what love was. All he seemed to know how to do was give me things to make me happy. And when the flood washed away all that he had, he clung to whatever he could to keep him alive which sometimes meant pulling me down to feel like I was drowning with him.
I remember so well the taste of the fresh gingerbread man given to me by the man I called Daddy that I so wanted to believe thought I was special. The man who later harmed me in ways that caused me to believe I was just someone at his disposal and that needed to stay out of his way. The pain cuts deep.
And I realize my dream of a good earthly father was merely a sand castle built next to rolling tide. Night came and washed it away leaving me with nothing but the sand.
However, along the shore God has revealed a narrow path and a single set of footprints, and just like the well known poem Footprints says:
The Lord replied, “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you.”
And He has carried me to the rock. The place where the knowledge of His sacrificial love can be relied on time and time again. It is immovable, unshakeable, and never failing. It is unchanging and full of dreams and promises that I can build my life upon. It is the rock of His never ending love and it is the only place my soul can ever truly rest. The only place that the storms of life can never, ever destroy.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is one of my favorite songs, because it’s asks the most important question we can ourselves in this life.
Is your life built on the rock of Christ Jesus or sandy foundations you’ve managed to lay?
Two Sets of Jones’s: