I came home to find strangers living there….

It was most unexpected, bizarre, unimaginable. We came home from church yesterday and a young couple and their three kids had taken over the house. In fact some of our cherished possessions were dumped in a pile in the driveway. Two of the older boys had ransacked my workshop and were building a tree house in the cherry tree with boards and planks they’d found; never mind that they were expensive hardwood pieces designed for  something more glamorous than their project. I was stunned and went in to ask what on earth was going on. The man was not in the least contrite, instead he said he took exception to my barging in on them – who did I think I was – the house was empty when they drove in so they took the opportunity. I threatened to call the police to which he replied, “Be ,my #***** guest!”

Obviously getting nowhere I made the call for reinforcements and after much discussion and loud obscenities the family was removed, leaving us to restore order, dis-assemble the bits of tree house, and salvage what we could that had not been trashed. I couldn’t get over their sense of entitlement and offense when challenged; don’t think I’ll ever forget yesterday as long as I live.

How would you have responded if that happened to you?

It’s really a parable describing how easily we can slip into a pattern of living in this world without reference to God, somehow believing we’re entitled  to a trouble-free life and when things go wrong he’s the one to blame. Life turns on a dime…. I was booked to attend a conference in Florida next week, accompanying a friend. Two days ago his wife was undergoing routine blood tests when suddenly leukemia was diagnosed – today she undergoes emergency chemotherapy and the next three months is critical (fortunately the prognosis is good for this particular type).

Those of us who watched the Masters Golf this weekend will know the dramatic story of Phil Mickelson’s family – wife and mother struggling to overcome breast cancer over the past year. All the money and success in the world doesn’t seem to be that important when life hangs in the balance. All the money and success in the world can’t buy character or a deep sense of identity and self awareness… as Tiger Woods grapples to extricate himself from his nightmare.

In post game interviews an emotional Mickelson cherished the moment, applauded his wife’s courage, and deeply appreciated the outcome. An emotional Woods complained about his game, said the scrutiny of his outbursts was exaggerated, and was depressingly self-absorbed. Lee Westwood, who played magnificently and had to be disappointed, was gracious in defeat, said that Mickelson played like a champion, and counted himself to be a lucky man in the scheme of things.

We’re only one week away from Easter – where God the Father, the creator and owner of the universe sent his Son Jesus to remind us of our purpose, his plan, our predicament, his solution, our rebellion, his initiative, our indifference, his passionate love, our desire to treat the house like we own it, his insistence that we respect what has been entrusted to us.

So, when God walks in on you or me today what will he find? Strangers, or friends of his who are incredibly appreciative for what we have and more than willing to give him time, attention, and praise as we appreciate every day.

Furthermore we live with the assurance that he has not only provided the home but promises to live there with us and help keep it clean. And when life turns on a dime he’ll be right by our side with support, encouragement, and resources. That’s worth a greater applause than Mickelson’s incredible shot out of the trees and onto the green at Amen Corner – Amen!

John Cox

Christian Author

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