Indoor Plumbing

Mom and Dad are moving. They built their house 49 years ago. During that time, you grow a lot of roots that you are pulling up and it doesn’t happen cleanly. Roots get severed, dirt flies everywhere, and a hole is left. Early in their marriage and my young life, moving was not an unusual occurrence. But here they planted not only a home but a legacy. Except for my early childhood where I only have a select few memories, this is my root home. Every formative season in my life happened here: joys, heartaches, revelations, and celebrations. Our core family of 4 all came into a relationship with Jesus while living under that roof! For my parents, 5 generations of family, from their own grandparents and parents to their children and grandchildren, all created memories in this place they made beautiful.

While moving is difficult and painful, it is beautiful and reassuring. You go through files and pictures and chachkes that you haven’t looked at in years, each reminding you of special times the Lord allowed you to experience. You come across reminders of difficult times that the Lord brought you through. You see the evidence of His faithfulness as He led 5 generations through the halls of this home.

I recently got to walk on the land where Jesus walked in Israel. There they have cities and archaeological sites called Tels. Tel Aviv in Israel is just such a place. A Tel is a location that has mounded over time due to civilizations that have layered one on top of the other over thousands of years. It is near impossible to fathom in the United States since we are such a baby of a country.

Tel Aviv incorporates the ancient town of Joppa, now called Jaffa, where Jonah jumped onto a ship trying to run away from God. Below are listed all(?) of the civilizations that lived in Jaffa, which was established several thousand years BC: Canaanites, Egyptians, Philistines, Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Ptolemies, Seleucids, Hasmoneans, Romans, Byzantines, the early Islamic Caliphates, Crusaders, Ayyubids, and Mamluks before coming under Ottoman rule in 1515, then British rule in the early 1900s. It had been, and still is, a fought-over piece of real estate. Layers of life. Excavations continue to find the remnants of the ancient civilizations. But when we stop to think that each civilization was made up of families and individuals, who had businesses, financial successes and failures, and births and weddings, and health needs and crises…thinking about the past can get a bit more personal. I saw one excavated house in the town of Zippori or ancient Sephoris, believed to be the birthplace of Mary. This house was the only one in the town where they found indoor plumbing. The excitement that the family must have felt (and the bragging to their neighbors) to have this contraption that was way ahead of its time! This rock seat through which a trough was carved and angled to the outside where water carried it away, must have caused quite the fantastic commotion. The tourists certainly got a big kick out of it! Civilizations were made up of people who laughed and cried and felt much the way that we do.

My parents built the home they are leaving. Some of us live in homes previously occupied, and we find traces of the previous occupants, for better or for worse, from time to time. If we’re honest, we even do some poking around, hoping to find something valuable or interesting! IMAGINE, having hundreds, maybe thousands, of previous occupants! That is a lot of living! And for every family, generation, and civilization that was uprooted, there were joys, heartaches, revelations, and celebrations that had been left, and that were to come. Every hole that is left, gets filled by new life that will make the most of what you started as they continue. This is also a foreshadowing of heaven. We will leave this place someday, with our legacy remaining for others to build on. But the joy awaiting us in the presence of our Savior is what makes the whole journey complete!

It is frightening to think that what is here today, all that we love and are familiar with, could be gone tomorrow. But when we trust Jesus with our tomorrows, He has a new and bright “YES!” in store. He wastes nothing, so the pain of leaving will be attenuated by the joy of His continued presence within that tomorrow. What has been, will be built on. What will be, is a new building. And He carries us through the transition. And who knows, we may be creating “indoor plumbing” for those who follow in our footsteps!

The Lord your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place. (Deuteronomy  1:30-31)


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