There are homes that shatter, the sound of which cannot be kept from people who are curious but do not really care. And there are homes whose lights flicker for a while, then slowly die down. And there is only darkness. Such a home quietly closes, as if to say, “You’ll soon forget me.”
(image from Google)
When we first arrived in our beautiful home in a dream subdivision in a quiet suburb, life was full of promise. My first-born was only two weeks old, a cute baby girl I had earnestly prayed for. My friend came to visit while we were finalizing the renovations and she exclaimed, “Your house is like a church!” She was exaggerating, of course, but she was reacting to the arched french double doors that led to the kitchen. We were both quite ignorant to be in a big beautiful house since we both grew up in the far-flung province.
Then I met one of our neighbors. They had been here many years before. One of the first few homeowners in this place. She was matronly and carried herself regally. She also spoke proudly and didn’t smile. Or so that’s what I remember. The former owners of our house were not in good terms with her. But though I liked their house, I didn’t plan to be like them. I didn’t see any problem with our matronly neighbor. She came to visit while I was in bed rest. I was not scared with her quite pompous attitude. I was actually amused by it.
She had grandchildren who went to prestigious schools. As Hannah grew up, she became friends with them and they played in the street every morning.
Unbeknownst to our neighbors, my husband Felix had finally left because of a violent and painful fight we had. I could not understand. I felt like my whole life came crumbling down. I was hurt and confused and I believed in my heart that my husband was too weak to care for his family and hold it together with all his might. The light died down in our home. I had a beautiful house, a flourishing company, a successful career, and a strong and healthy body. But our home was broken. And my daughter had not even turned one.
Two years. Two years before the Lord Jesus found us and redeemed our marriage and restored our family. But I had lost my strong and healthy body. Nonetheless, a light began to flicker in our home once again. The light of the Savior.
In 2004, while I was fighting for my life against my undiagnosed illness, our neighbor’s son, a businessman, took his own life, leaving his wife and little children behind. The youngest was only a month old. It was before Christmas. If ever our stately neighbor was deeply affected by it, it didn’t show. She remained to look dignified and regal. I marvelled at her resilience and confidence.
She had a life partner for three decades. They were always together. They were happy and enjoyed each other’s company. That I could see.
Then came the kidney disease and the never-ending twice-weekly dialysis. They told us about it when they came to my son’s dedication. We brought them to our Church’s ordained preacher and she was prayed over. We hoped and prayed that they will continue with the Lord Jesus Christ. We invited them every Sunday for a while. But they never wanted to come with us to Church.
Then came the triple heart bypass surgery. My heart trembled every time she was fetched by an ambulance. I was so scared to think that she might die. I sent DVDs of our Church’s worship service that she could watch while convalescing. I could never be sure if she watched them.
She began to use the wheelchair. But her poise remained with her. It looked to me like she never wanted to let go of beauty and vanity. She had somebody come regularly to do her nails and to color and style her hair. I marvelled at her tenacity. Or maybe she wanted to remain beautiful in the eyes of the love of her life, her college sweetheart.
But if marriage vows can be dishonored, what will happen in the absence of them? He left. For good. Without her knowing of the plan. When I learned about it, I ached for her sake. How can the light of a home, of a love, of a person, fade slowly and excruciatingly painfully?
This, this should have been their everything.
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12, emphasis mine)
During one of the rare afternoons that I could go around our village, I saw her in her wheelchair under the Narra tree. I don’t want to say I was shocked by what I saw for I don’t want to dishonor her. But the first, almost instinctive, reaction I had was to run to Jesus in my heart, in that secret place, and cling to Him. That is what a portrait of fading away does to a weak spirit like mine. I draw strength from my Savior.
I had wondered, sorrowfully, “Is this what dialysis does to a person? It sucks the life out of you ever so slowly, but surely, until there is nothing left?” Amid those questions I had tightly clung to Jesus again. I know how to be near the edge of death’s door. I had been there many times. But Life that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ gave life to my dying body and keeps the light burning in my soul. And in my eyes. For all to see. Hallelujah!
12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.
13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. (Col. 2:12-14 NLT, emphasis mine)
I saw the difference between a diseased body that is owned by the Savior and one whose light has completely gone.
Then one day, she was gone. I stared long and hard at their house. It stood silently. And desolate.
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Journey with Jesus,