Labor Day weekend we said goodbye to the lake house we have loved and enjoyed for the past eighteen years. Tears filled my eyes as I turned down the road which would wind and curve and lead to the two acres which held our memories. Rest. Peace. Relaxation. Fun. We anticipated them all when we turned down that road. And for eighteen years, our expectations had always been met.
This house had gathered family, hosted friends, created retreat space for multiple groups and been a respite for a few folks whose lives were in crisis. It even served as a rent free dwelling for our college graduate who landed his first job about an hour’s drive from there. Indeed, this home and this lake setting had served us well. Memories flooded our minds and tugged at our emotions.
On Sunday night after the five grandkids were nestled in sleeping bags on the living room floor, the grownups gathered in the family room to reminisce. We recalled the days spent skiing, tubing, swimming, staying up late and sleeping in as long as we could. Of birthdays, holidays, family and friends who had shared those days with us here. But mostly we felt and expressed gratitude for a space that had served our family well, where we had created unforgettable memories and good times.
I was surprised when two of our three children told me they were more saddened by the sale of our lake house than they would be the house they had grown up in. But when I thought about it I understood why. The lake house was our “happy place”. No one had chores there. Or homework. Or school. Or bedtimes. Or alarm clocks. Or a need to be disciplined. Nothing bad ever happened at that place. Only happy mornings, carefree days, lazy afternoons and peaceful nights. Of course they were sad to say goodbye! Their memories of times there were only good.
Nothing bad ever happened at that place. Only happy mornings, carefree days, lazy afternoons and peaceful nights.
Each of our kids took something from the house and the grandkids collected interesting shaped rocks from the lake’s shore which we will paint in bright colors and keep as mementos of the lake. Our daughter-in-law, Starre, asked for the clay turtle whose underside held the house key in a secret spot where we kept it hidden. “I know that seems like a silly thing to ask for,” she said. But I understood. “I know,” I told her, “it’s like when you reached under the turtle and grabbed that key you knew you had arrived at a place of peace.” I would always enter that house with a feeling of “Ahhhhhhh. . . now I can rest.”
As I have reflected on the feelings of fondness we all had for that happy place, I am made more aware of how grand it will be when we are finally home at the place Jesus said He was going away to prepare for us (John 14:3). I think the “Ahhhhh. . .” feeling of peace and tranquility I experienced at our lake house was perhaps a foretaste of that blissful rest.
Can you imagine an existence with no suffering, no sin and no stress? Where all fear is gone, all hurt is healed and all longings are satisfied. . . forever? It seems inconceivable. I Corinthians 2:9 says, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.”
Although I can’t really imagine it, I still long for it. Ecclesiastes 3:11 declares that “God has put eternity in the heart of man.” What that means is that in every human soul there is a God-given awareness that there is “something more”, something beyond the stress and striving of our daily lives. Our souls long for it even when we don’t give it a name. I believe that is often why artists, architects and scientists strive to invent, create and explore. They sense the “more” that is beyond and are reaching for a bit of eternity when they leave a permanent mark on the earth they have inhabited.
The “Ahhhhh. . .” feeling of peace and tranquility I experienced at our lake house was perhaps a foretaste of that blissful rest.
As believers, we can also look forward to being reunited with ones we love and from whom we have been separated by death. My sweet friend, Lynn, commemorated the one year anniversary of her twenty-year-old son, Cole’s, departure last week. A large group of her friends had gathered with her for prayer. As Lynn prayed she thanked God for Cole’s life, for the fact that he did not suffer, for the assurance he was with Jesus and finally she said with a smile on her lips, “And I cannot wait to be with him!” Being with those we love is being “at home”. I know one day Lynn will have that “Ahhhhh . . .” moment of joy and peace when she is reunited with her boy and the Lord who loves them both.
As I was packing up the last of our personal belongings our neighbors, Endre and Shirley, came to say their goodbyes. This wonderful couple has watched our children grow from childhood into adulthood then welcomed the next generation as five grandchildren arrived. They have turned on the air conditioning for us before we’ve arrived and turned off fans and water after we’ve left. They’ve celebrated our milestones and mourned our losses. They’ve loved us well and made our happy place even happier. We’ve promised to share an occasional dinner so we can stay in touch but even this promise didn’t keep the lump from forming in my throat.
As I release a much loved earthly possession I am reminded of the verse in Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” It helps me to view things from an eternal perspective.
And I am comforted by Revelation 21:4 which says, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” For then we will finally and forever be in our happy place. Hallelujah and amen!