Picture this: Some friends of yours get a great deal on a piece of land. It’s beautiful and fertile. They tell you of their plans to build a house on the site and make the place look even nicer. You are excited for them, and see how much potential they have on their hands. You offer to help them get the things started.
You call a fine company of contractors and ask their on-staff architect to help you draw up a plan for the place that had all of your imaginations leaking exotic ideas. So they get on the job and run through the process. Before you know it, their is a great big hole on the property with cement going into it. You come by in a week and the foundation is complete — it’s a beauty.
Two more weeks pass and you excited implore your wife, “Let’s go see what the Jone’s have up over there by now!” But, when you get there, the Jones aren’t there. What’s worse is that there is nothing new on the property to greet you either. The place seems empty because you’ve seen all that is there already.
“Where could they be?” your wife asks, to which you have no reply. You get back in your car and drive home in a somber mood, wondering, “What is going on? I can understand our friends being away — maybe they needed a vacation — but, it’s as though they took all the workers and the plans and the dreams with them!”
The next morning you’re still bothered, so you pick up the phone to give them a call, but get a busy signal. You’ll try again later. But a whole week passes and then two more without ever being able to get in contact. Feeling more worried by now, you drive by their house after work and find an abandoned building — one more in the wake of their mysterious disappearance.
Six months go by with nothing — your life goes on and so does the life of that property once so teeming with dreams. Weeds come up and the grass grows tall; dogs hang out in the ruins and groundhogs finish the job by burrowing all over the area. Within just a few years, as your home begins to increase in value, that of your old friend’s is more than a wasteland. The township has grown alarmed by the activities fostered there.
Rather than being a respectable home that everyone can be appreciate as they walk by, now it is a headquarters to the most un-family-friendly activities imaginable. Its boasts lure in people from many miles away — both geographically and morally. You wonder what should be done; this degrading of the entire town through one mean establishment must be stopped.
You decide to buy the rights to the grounds and make something meaningful of it. It takes quite a fight to get this thing settled, but with much patience you get your mortgage and clear the place of everything you don’t want there. Occasionally you still have to face threats of repossession by drug lords and hermits, but you deal with them in the best way you know how.
As things begin to take shape, the towns-people get curious. They casually walk by in the evenings — “I just happened to notice…”, “that’s quite a place you’ve got there…” “any ideas on what you’d like to do?” “I’m sure you’re just dying to get a new renter in there so you can get the whole thing off your mind!” they say in turn.
But, you’ve got other plans. You quietly shrug off their weakly-conceived ideas and go about your business — they will find out in time you whisper to yourself. You clear out the old foundation of all the debris and begin to build again. But the building you have in mind is not just a simple home, but something far more appealing in its community-centered-ness.
You finish it and take up residence in your new creation; then you begin to invite back all the people who were so recently sacking out on the premises. This can be their home at no charge and with no exceptions, so long as they agree with one stipulation. They enter as your family — not because they are worthy to have such a connection, but because this is your house and that is your rule.
Under this condition they realize they cannot come back the same people they once were. They must come as your invitees, intent on receiving your order and letting you train them to abandon their self-seeking ways and live with you in such a way that you would be forever pleased to have them there. Not that they should be afraid of making mistakes, but that they should want to correct them because of the generosity of your blessing. What they were not looking for, and could not earn, you have called them to enjoy as a gift based on your goodness and not theirs.
Do you think you would get any takers? A few, but I’m sure a considerable number would reject you so that they could keep on doing what they wanted to — trashing places for their own benefit rather than building them up. Your tools and orientation would be labeled as “too uncomfortable” and “restrictive” to accommodate the free spirits who like only what they’re used to.
Now, if you think my story is far fetched, I would like you to know that I have based it on a much larger and personal story. It is a life story — God’s story that you’re apart of. The you I referred to is God — all these activities are representations of His activities. Now, we are the drug lords who were invited to a place they really didn’t belong because God had a better plan for them than they did.
But the question I’d like to end with is the only one this story poses: Which drug-dealer are you: the one who came back, or the one who stayed away? Your answer will not only affect today, but your eternity — either you will begin to climb uphill today, or your future will continue to go downhill just as easily as it has until now.