When I’m driving along and see an abandoned house, it really bothers me. I can’t help wondering who lived there, why they left, and what happened to them. If I had a house I wasn’t going to live in, I would rather let a family without a home live in it rent free, pay the taxes, and keep it up in exchange for dwelling there. It seems so pointless to let what was once a good house fall apart.
In the part of the country where I live, there are abandoned houses to be found all over the place. I think about the homeless people in cities living in alleys and under bridges in the bitter weather. I think about little families forced to live in shelters because they just can’t seem to get ahead enough to get on their feet, and I wish that every abandoned house would have had someone come to live in it before it fell apart.
I think about the parents, grandparents, and children who might have lived there and the relatives that came and went through the years, about young love, promises, and dreams. I think about how those houses embraced families and brought them together, safe under one roof. It makes me sad to wonder what happened, why everyone left, and why no one cared enough to fix the house while it was still salvageable. A house without people living in it quickly falls to rack and ruin, as if when the people are gone, the spirit is sucked out of it and it dies.
Relationships are like that, too.
Sometimes it is a love gone wrong, a series of broken promises, an unfaithful spouse, a debilitating, illness, or the death of a loved one that begins to break a relationship down. In the beginning, there is still time to fix the things that get broken. When those things are ignored over time, the accumulation of all of them (if not repaired along the way) breaks down the relationship until it is uninhabitable. There is only a shell left of what the healthy relationship looked like, and only the ghosts of things past remain.
A person’s relationship to God can also begin to crumble when sin sneaks in. The person stops praying daily, reads less and less of the Bible, and quits communicating with God. The little distractions and enticements of life can blind a person to the breaking down of their spiritual home. Although God does not abandon us, many people abandon Him and leave their relationship with him to go live outside of the provision and protection He had for them.
Abandoned houses eventually disintegrate to the point of no hope for repairing. Relationships are often broken to the point that they are never restored. Our relationship with God is the only one that can be flawed, abandoned, and disintegrated beyond recognition and still be salvageable. There is nothing broken that is beyond God’s reach, repair, or ability to restore.