I was driving in the country yesterday. I have to admit I have always loved the rural south. Even as a young girl coming here just for a visit, I was always fascinated by the country side. I can remember one of my desires was to just drive the state and document the old abandoned homes with photographs and try to research who lived there and what their story was.
I passed empty home after empty home yesterday. What once were lively and active homesteads are nothing now but shells covered in brush and foliage, sometimes so hidden you can hardly even tell they are there.
I worked with a lady that told me the story of one such house down a dirt road near her mother's house. She said they had always wondered about the home because it was apparent it was empty, but the yard had stayed cared for. One day a couple of years back curiosity got the best of them as they were walking off Thanksgiving dinner and they went up to the house to investigate. What they found astonished them. The house was fully furnished. One of them found a window undone, so they went inside. She said it was just like the person had disappeared. His clothes were lying across the bed as if ready for someone to step into. The house was neat and tidy, and the wall still had a calendar turned to a month in 1959 hanging on the wall.
So as I was driving yesterday I tried to imagine that moment when they shut the door on their home for the last time. I thought about the years that had passed since the halls of these rundown structures had echoed footsteps, or carried laughter or tears. I thought about the babies that were rocked, the children that played and grew, and the emptiness of life when they moved on. I thought about the place my grandparents lived in when I was very small and the fact that it is now barely standing, hardly recognizable, but once was a place where I felt loved.
Then I thought about all the places in the house of God that are empty that once held someone on fire, filled with the Holy Ghost, excited and ready to reach the lost. I thought about seeing them less and less until you just don't see them at all.
I don't know if these families just woke up one morning and decided to abandon their homes and leave. I am quite sure they had a plan, or that an event such as death caused them to stand empty.
And I don't think anyone wakes up one morning and says "today is the day I give up on God." I see it happen over time. I see the coldness coming in, the lack of worship and decrease in faithfulness. And pretty soon their souls seem abandoned, lacking life, full of weeds and devoid of light and laughter. Then if you run into them in town you sometimes cannot even recognize them as the same person you once knew, just as I can hardly recognize my grandparents old homestead. The frame is still there, but the lack of maintenance and repair make it seem as if a good wind would do it in.
Lord, make my heart Your home. Come in and sweep it clean from the debris of life and live inside of me. I need You today, more than ever. I need to feel Your presence. I love You with my life.