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The House Next Door

Empty rooms deserve life just as a heart is filled with gratitude for Christ's love.

The house next door. Photo courtesy Shawnelle Eliasen.

The old Victorian next door is lovely. The outside has two porches, a white picket fence, and gingerbread trim.

The inside holds character, too. Claw foot bathtubs. Wide, dark woodwork. Marble fireplace. Staircase steep with charm. It’s rumored that Abraham Lincoln surveyed the land for the house.

The house next door. Photo courtesy Shawnelle Eliasen.But the home has been empty for years.

The boys and I walk past each afternoon and the old house draws our attention. “It needs a family,” someone inevitably says. I look up to the vacant windows and imagine the house full of life. I think of the empty halls filled with footfalls. I dream of a long table in the dining room with family gathered close.

I imagine chatter around the fireplace and empty shelves filled with books. It would be wonderful to hear the yard overflow with the sounds of children. Or to know there’s an abundance of sweet life behind the still panes of glass.

But it’s empty.

Just the opposite of me.

Oh, there are days when I feel empty. When energy is low and the demands remain high. There are days when I’m tired. Spent. Drained and depleted.

But empty is not my reality.

I am made whole with the fullness of Christ.

As a Jesus-follower, the void in my heart is made full with His presence. Empty corridors are filled. Dark, stagnant places are warm with light. Still, stark emptiness becomes rich with life. I smile to know that the radiance of His grace, this divine filling, can shine even on my face!

Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you. (Luke 11:36, NIV)

What a beautiful, beautiful thing.

The boys and I will continue to walk past the house next door. Every once in a while we’ll pause to pray for the family that will eventually fill its vast form.

Maybe one day the boys and I will sit under the maple in our own yard and enjoy sounds of family and love and life drifting from the house across the street. Maybe we’ll smile and wave from our own front porch.

Maybe one day.

But for now, I’m grateful.

Grateful for the fullness He’s given me.

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