Our house is falling apart. The ceiling dropping chunks of plaster, the black mold creeping all over the walls, the rat swimming up our toilet … (okay that last one was gratuitous and has nothing to do with the construction – only the trials of this earth).
With all these things, do I need another reminder not to store up treasures in my worldly goods?
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Mt 6)
We’re coming to the stretch of construction where the interior of our house is going to be in shambles – worse than a few chunks of plaster falling or mold bubbling all the paint. We’ll have to break a hole in our wall to build a staircase that will reach the newly-constructed upstairs.
At the moment, the workers access it by scaffolding only, and not from the inside. Once they get the stairwell in place, there will be someone to come and repair all the damage – to clean and cover the mold, replaster and paint the ceiling …
In preparation for that, we have to box everything up as if we were going to move. We need to put all the valuables in boxes and stash them out of the way. This:
And each family antique is wrapped in modern newspaper and placed unceremoniously – though carefully – in a cardboard box. The Russian teapot
the hand-painted plates and serving dishes
and crystal … I have no idea what this is, but it’s old.
I do love antiques. They’re not as valuable in France as they are in the US because there are so many. All of ours are greasy from humidity and dust, and I’m looking at this project as a good thing – a forced spring cleaning once the air vents are installed and the air and walls are cleaner in our house.
I’ve been blogging less, and doing more generic posts like recipes, which – for those who like the personal posts (or who hate cooking) – might be frustrating. Part of it is because there are some things I can’t or won’t share on a personal forum (usually because it involves other people). Part of it is because the mess in our house is starting to wear on me, patient as I (think I) am.
Part of it is because I’m just working more on the books. I’m beta reading for people, reviewing people’s books, and I’m writing and editing. I can’t let the blogging go because I love the immediate connection I have with you guys. But I find that writing books is starting to have a strong pull and I want more of it.
The viscount story – I hope it will be ready for publishing in another month or two. I’m still waiting for feedback from two fellow authors. And I finally started my regency, and am on page 4. I know. Four whole pages. Hold on to your seats.
Sometimes I’m hopeful with all these things. Sometimes I’m down. And the decrepit state of our house seems symbolic of all the undercurrents of battles I can’t discuss.
(This is our 1772 French Bible).
It occurred to me – when I was finally ready to get this post up – that I would be publishing it on what is known as Good Friday. Although I can’t figure out what’s good about it since it was the darkest moment of history. The moment when creation killed its Creator.
Maybe it’s good because of the redemption that followed. The hope that came out of darkness. All I know is this:
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (Luke 22)
From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” (Matthew 28)
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. (Acts 1)
And I know that the black hole my friend spoke about on Sunday – the one that sucks all life and light and joy and hope from one’s world – Jesus experienced this as he faced the cross.
And I know that with his death he took our individual, personal black holes into the grave so we could taste life and light and joy and hope again. What can Satan accuse us of? Not sin and shame. We are not guilty of sin because Jesus died for our sins, and with no sin there is no shame. What about murder? Can Satan accuse us of Jesus’ death since we put him on the cross? No. We are not guilty of Jesus’ death because he was resurrected. He’s alive!
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15)
Everything around us might be crumbling. Our lives might be falling apart – our home, our health, our hope falling in shreds and scattered in the wind. The black hole might edge into our vision, telling us that nothing awaits but terror and dismay.
On this day those 2 millennia ago, everything around Jesus was tinged with darkness and he fell under the burden of it. He fell to his knees and cried because he was afraid and weary with sorrow. He fell under the weight of the flogging. He buckled under the weight of the Roman beating. He fell under the weight of the cross as he tried to carry it. He fell onto the planks as they grabbed his wrists and feet and pounded a stake through them. And he fell into the abyss of death where he stayed for three days and preached to those who had been disobedient in the days of Noah.
Satan uses death and despair as a cloak, but these things never had the last word. Sometimes everything falls apart because it needs to – a seed has to fall to the ground in order to produce a crop of a hundred-fold. This breaking-down, falling-apart stage can be scary until you remember the things that really matter.
Until you remember that in those things everything is intact.