For the whole of my youth, I had the great privilege of living between two lakes. One was wooded and whimsical, the other residential and romantic. I gloried in both, but passed the latter more frequently as it flanked the road to school and work.
Mornings were made calmer by the rosy sunrises reflected on the water. On chilly days, mists hovered above its surface, as if hiding secrets of the deep. And perched along the shore were many lovely homes, like a bevy of beauties about to bathe. But as with every group of girls, one outshone the others, and this I dubbed the “Window House.” Since I admired it by name quite often, my parents also adopted the special moniker and smiled to each other when we spoke of it.
We drove past the Window House often, and no matter the weather or hour, its glass-paneled facade captured my fancy. In the sun, it scintillated. In the night, it was a brilliant beacon, reflected by the dark waters below.
I loved that house, dreamed of that house. I imagined much about its delightful inhabitants. A mother so warm, father so strong and children so playful.
As I grew, the charm never waned. In fact, at Christmastime, when childish fancy in all things festive is condoned, I reveled in the tree and sparkling lights easily visible through the glass. They beckoned to me with all the warmth of a myriad memories.
One day, when home from a college break, I sauntered past the house on a solitary walk and encountered a man in the front yard. I had never witnessed a living soul about the place. It was an opportunity I could not pass up.
“Excuse me, sir,” I addressed him. “I’ve lived here my whole life and have admired your home for as long as I can remember. I just thought I’d introduce myself.”
He smiled, shook my hand and gave me his name — Ivan. I then beckoned to his home somewhat bashfully. “I’ve always called it the ‘Window House.'”
“Ah!” he laughed. “We call it the White Chalet.”
Could this be? They had a delightful name for it too. I was struck for a moment by the beauty of their moniker, until Ivan dropped a bombshell. “Well, it’s not my house anymore, but I’m glad you like it. It’s my wife, well, ex-wife’s, now. I’m just here to get some of my things.”
“Oh.” I didn’t quite know what to say. “I’m…I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Don’t be. It happens.” He paused, then began again, “If you ever see her in the yard, please ask to look inside. It is a beautiful house. Tell her that Ivan gave you permission.”
I thanked him, and we parted ways, but the Window House no longer held its charm. To enter would be to visit a broken heart, the worm-eaten core of a seemingly flawless apple. I hurt for the fractured family. This was not how it was supposed to be.
When I first learned the word facade, I was taught that it referred to the architectural face of a building. However, I rarely used the word in its literal sense. Now, the term took on greater meaning. Just as I could show a facade of kindness while harboring anger in my heart, the Window House shone with external splendor while the family inside it rotted with contention and disharmony.
2 Corinthians 5:1 declares: “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
Why do we work to build our evanescent wealth, our beautiful and enviable homes, our lucrative careers, then wonder why they don’t satisfy? Are we so focused on our life’s facade — personal appearance, house, job — that we lose sight of what truly makes a life? A home?
Let us strive for the house not made with hands. Let us strive for a home made with heart and happiness based upon our heavenly hope in Christ. That kind of home can exist anywhere, because it depends on love, not architectural and design finesse. And someday, when this earthly life passes, we will live in ethereal homes — far more delightful than any Window House or White Chalet — that will radiate with divine love and beauty from within.