The house seems large today. Just a few years after we got married Aileen and I bought the only house we could afford at the time—a little townhouse in an older neighborhood. We never left, never moved on, never traded up. It was big enough for our needs and we happily raised our children here. Though it often seemed too small, today it seems a bit too large. What use do we have for all these rooms? What good do they do just the two of us? It seems large today—large, empty, and kind of sad.
The dinner table seems large this evening. Some of our best family memories were made right here. We gathered around this table each evening to eat, to talk, to laugh, to read the Bible, to pray. In so many ways our family life revolved around this table. Five of us would sit here, often six if one of the children from the neighborhood was joining us. It was always just a bit tight as we sat elbow-to-elbow, our feet bumping and fighting for space underneath. But it seems large this evening with just two of us sitting here, just two of us sitting down at one end. It seems large, empty, and kind of sad.
The living room seems large tonight. You might think that would be impossible when our living room is so very small. We never could fit enough chairs in here to seat all of us at once. Someone would always have to sit on a lap or lie on the floor, or three would need to squeeze onto a mere loveseat. We read so many books here, books that transported us to Middle Earth or Narnia, to the Canadian east coast or the American prairies. So many books, so many stories, so many memories in so small a place. But this living room feels too large tonight—large, empty, and kind of sad.
It all seems large tonight—large, empty, and kind of sad. But my heart feels full tonight—full, pleased, and well satisfied, for each of our children is just where the Lord means for them to be. One is at college, the next step in her growth, the next stage of developing into who God has made her. One is at her home with her husband, happily settled into her new place, her new family, her new life. One is in heaven, in the safest and best of all places, the place we all most truly wish to be. And this little house was only ever meant to be temporary for our children, only ever meant to be the place in which we would prepare them, the place from which we would launch them into the world beyond, and the world beyond that.
I’ll go upstairs now and sit beside Aileen on that little loveseat. I’ll look at the empty table, gaze at the empty chairs, listen to the silence of an empty house and praise God for all the memories, all the blessings, all the sweet pleasures we experienced in this little house that, today at least, seems so large.