I spent most of last week near Seattle, helping my parents make final arrangements to move to a retirement center. Dad is 92, mom is 87 and the corruptible nature of the body is catching up with them both. They came to this decision themselves and, in fact, my mom is downright excited about it. She is totally ready to let someone else do the cooking and cleaning.
Nonetheless, my parents have lived in the same house for 65 years. It is the only “home” my younger brother and I have ever known. During the last six decades I have watched the house dramatically morph from its original 800 sqft as Dad built a shop, an addition to the master bedroom and a massive family room. In the evenings last week, after they had gone to bed, I wandered the house, opening books on the shelves, some that were published in the early 1900’s, and handling antiques passed through the family, some over 100 years old. In many ways, that house is one big antique store (and the shop, too, I guess if you can get past tens of thousands of nuts, bolts and screws).
So, it was fascinating (and somewhat inspiring) to listen to my mother speak of how easy it was going to be to walk away from a lifetime accumulation of “things.” Yes, the antiques and family heirlooms will be distributed to children and grandchildren. And my parents have a deep appreciation for the house the Lord provided for most of their 69 years of marriage; many awesome things have happened within its walls. But my parents have always lived by the principle of, “Don’t build bigger barns; build better relationships.” This is the hallmark of their lives and the legacy they have passed down.
And the most important relationship they have – the one with their Heavenly Father – has been the foundation of a simple, yet very satisfying life. While I know it was the Apostle Paul who penned these words in Philippians, it very well could have been my mother:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)
The last afternoon of my visit, my parents, my brother and his wife, and I sat together in the family room for the last time as the Groves’ family. We laughed and reminisced and thanked the Lord for the way He has worked in all of our lives over all of these years. May I be as wise and satisfied in Him as my parents are when I reach this season in my own life.
Let me encourage you: “Don’t build bigger barns; build better relationships.” You’ll be glad you made that choice.