I have a greater appreciation for those whose homes have been lost or destroyed due to fire or natural disasters. Some homes have had nothing left but the foundation. Others have had the roof removed or a portion of the framing left standing. I’m sure there must have been times when the task seems too great, too much to overcome, too discouraging, and yet deep within them, there is a wish to get back to “normal”.
On May 20, 2013, an EF-5 tornado crossed Moore, OK and S. Oklahoma City resulting in 24 lives lost, many left injured and multiple businesses, schools, and homes were completely destroyed or heavily damaged. It was a horrible event that caused grief and sorrow. Lives were scarred and changed that day. In our church, we had members whose homes were destroyed. Some of them relocated to other sites and others chose to rebuild on their existing site. All of them had their lives changes, disrupted, and shaken, but they made it! They are battle-scarred, humbled, wiser, and more appreciative of the daily blessing from the Lord. They are back to a “new normal”; to an altered life that was changed with the Hand of God.
I’m told the next step in the grief refining process is to build a new life. I have been in the steel business since 1974. I have read hundreds, if not thousands of sets of architectural drawings, which many times have had a rendering of the proposed structure on the cover page. The rendering is to show what the building is supposed to look like when it is finished. The drawings will show the foot print of the structure, the roof plan, the elevations of the building, sections to show particular details; all very orderly and straight forward. I don’t have a rendering and I don’t quite what this life will look like in the end.
So with that in mind, I began to think of things that would be needed to build a new life. It seem logical to me to make an evaluation of what had been damaged, destroyed, or of parts missing. The next step was to determine if I needed to reconfigure or modify the existing life. Then is seem right, to determine what materials would be used in the new structure of my life. And lastly, what would the cost be.
4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5 ESV
I recognize that a life is not the same as a structure. The scriptures does draw some parallels to structures though: 1 Peter 2:4-5 speaks to building a spiritual house, in which we are living stones. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 speaks of building upon a sure foundation and the types of materials we use to construct the structure call our life.
10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 1 Cor. 3:10-15 ESV
What was my assessment of the things I mentioned above?
The first thing that I wanted to assess was my foundation. A structure is only as good as the foundation that it is built upon. My foundation and my corner stone is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Today, He is as secure and undamaged as from the very beginning. He has determined the footprint of my life from before the foundation of the world. I can trust in Him to hold me securely. It has been said that God does not take away anything that is essential for you to continue to live. You may be altered and hurt, but you will continue to move forward
Secondly, what did I find destroyed, damaged, or missing? I have been pondering the word “destroyed”, trying to be honest with myself about if there is anything that is not usable in my life any longer, as a result of Terrie’s death. I don’t think anything has been destroyed – damaged or missing? Yes, those two things can be easily be labeled and discussed.
I have some structural damage. Much of my day to day support framing needs to be repaired or replaced. Terrie would give me words of affirmation, express her love to me, she would touch me and comfort me daily. She gave me purpose and a desire to carry on. Much of that is non-existent now. The twisted and broken remains have been cut out and moved to the side, to be discarded to an unknown location. Perhaps some will be stored in my tear bottles that the Lord keeps in heaven.
There are things missing that I’m unsure if they will be replaced or not. The valve to turn off my ability to love or receive love is missing. It appears my love is running down the street along the curb to some low point in the terrain. Oh, how I miss having her head pressed into my chest as I wrapped my arms around her. Oh, how I miss hearing her tell me her thoughts and about what held her interest. Oh, I miss her friendship, her laughter, her personality. This seems to be where the biggest hole in the structure is, she was about my only friend who could fill the many roles and positions that she did fill. And lastly, Oh, how I miss her smiling at me. I have told you before what a sucker I am for a beautiful smile and her smile did so many things to me. It would show me that I was pleasing her and I wanted to please her constantly. It calmed the stormy waters within me and provided a safe harbor to rest. Her smile reflected the wonderful person that she was and it reflected the Lord’s kindness to me through her. Yes, much is missing. Only the Lord knows if any of those things will be added to my life again.
What of the materials to be used? I get the idea that living stones are malleable and can be configured to suit the need at the moment. I don’t want to use wood, hay, or straw (I know there must be some in my life already) because when it’s tested with fire, only ashes will remain. So the preferred material would be gold, silver, precious stones, which brings us to cost.
To rebuild with gold, silver, precious stones as my materials, I think one must be very wise as to when and where these materials are to be used. Have you ever put a match to a tumbleweed? It burns very quickly. Have you ever put a match to stubble? It last longer than a tumbleweed, but still burns very quickly. Have you ever put a match to gold or silver? A match by itself does nothing to gold or silver. It takes a lot of heat to liquefy gold and silver and even then, it’s purpose is to purify the mineral.
Why mention this about tumbleweeds and gold? I mention it to illustrate that, if ever there was a time for “baby steps”, now is the time. Figuratively, I need to live in a tent until the Lord brings what materials are needed to the job-site for work to continue. I have seen shabbily built structures and given the choice, I would prefer to wait for the good than settle for the immediate. I know this much about building, it takes time. The rough-in shows spurts of growth, but the finish work takes time.
There is still some sanding going on with my woodwork. Some day when that is over, the stain and finish will happen, but until then, I need to learn much more and be tested much more. I need to work on my self-control and how I approach things. I may need to give up some personal preferences and see the beauty in what the Lord has for me.
To me, building a new life means: to continue walking with the Lord, being open to things that are different than what I am accustomed to, making changes in my attitude for my own good, adjusting to His time table, and having peace with who I am.
May I be honest with you? The idea of rebuilding is frightening to me. The idea of not rebuilding is even more frightening to me. I don’t want to be stagnant, I don’t want to live in the past. I prefer to build upon the Lord and a solid, strong marriage that lasted 41 and a half years, and hopefully, see the rendering of my life, that is yet un-seen by me.
Perhaps you have had to build a new life, did you have a similar experience or was your path different than mine? I would enjoy knowing of your experience.