I think that God allows some storms in our lives just to accentuate the light of the sun when it breaks through. That was certainly the feeling one particularly tumultuous summer when I was a teen. Early that summer, the house my grandparents had built on their homestead caught fire and burned. A few weekends later, my dad went there with others to pour footings for a new abode; my uncle was living there at the time. As dad returned home, he thought about stopping in to check on Grandpa and Grandma, who lived just around the corner from us. He was tired that Sunday night and thought, I'll check in on them tomorrow."
Early Monday morning, our phone rang. It was my cousin Gary, who had spent the night at our grandparents' house. Grandpa had just suffered a massive heart attack and died. Though he was 81 and they had moved down from the mountain because of his heart problems, the grief we felt from Grandpa's death was mammoth. It was the heaviness of that storm that made our summer vacation so significant.
Normally we would have traveled to the Rocky Mountains in northern New Mexico for a vacation with relatives, picnics and fly fishing. That year, regardless of the painful loss, a house had to be built. Various family and friends started gathering, some from far away. They brought their skills, their tools, and their helpfulness to focus on the erection of a simple, four-room house to replace the one that had been lost in the fire. Our family stayed in tents. I don't remember how (or if) we showered that week. I do remember getting up each day, eating a hearty breakfast and going to work. Foundation, flooring, and framing each took about a day. Amazingly, a house took shape in about a week.
Each time I am able to attend our family reunion in Pie Town, NM, I remember that week of my teens. That house still stands; in fact, some of the family always stays there on reunion weekend. It's a joy to recall the way everyone worked together to accomplish a slightly amazing task. That week so long ago became the sunshine following a grievous storm.
Remembering the good things is one of the joys we ought to experience as we begin a new year. I hope you can join us as we celebrate some of them this weekend at Stone Ridge Church! Can't join us? Catch the podcast!