One ordinary morning I dropped my teens off at school, then headed home to tackle the laundry pile and breakfast dishes. My normalcy was abruptly interrupted when my phone rang at 8:30. Our friend Bob Lepine called to suggest I turn on the television. A plane had just flown into one of the twin towers in New York City. I ran to tell Dennis, who hadn’t yet left for the office. We both watched in disbelief as the tragedy unraveled before our eyes.
Most of us remember the day as thousands of shock waves rolled out across the nation. Every airport shut down, rental car companies emptied their lots, schools closed. All Americans suddenly had one supreme desire: to find a way home.
For all its flaws, stresses and challenges, home and family is where we most want to be when faced with a crisis … national, local or personal.
- When the weather brings an unexpected snowstorm, where do we want to be? Home.
- When work becomes difficult, we can’t wait to get … Home.
- When our kids experience a friend’s rejection or disappointment over a failed assignment, they just want to go … Home.
Home is both the physical place and the emotional environment God imagined into being when He created the family. Home is to be the place where every person can know belonging and shelter from all the storms of life.
While our homes offer safety and security, they are not without challenges. Jesus taught that every house will face storms: “… the rains fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall” (Matthew 7:25). But homes built on the Rock of Christ will survive and provide safety to all within.
Jesus said storms will come. Therefore, we should spend time paying attention to the stability of our foundation and the strength of the walls of our home. The parable of the storms was told to illustrate Jesus’ words, “everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock,” (Matthew 7:24). Pay attention to what I say and follow my blueprints, Jesus was saying, for true security.
Here are three ordinary ways we can build a foundation of security and safety at home. Every family on earth faces these challenges. In them moms and dads create security and stability.
1. When sickness rains: As a nation we are freshly reminded of the awful invasion of disease and sickness. It never asks permission to enter our homes. It rudely interrupts our routine. But the way we care for a sick family member crucially demonstrates God’s immense love, care and compassion for us. Seeing and experiencing love always makes us feel better.
Nurturing someone back to health pictures God’s nurture of us. Children need to see and be recipients of healing love in action. Jesus also said in Matthew 25:40, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” In your family, your home, your children learn biblical truths about the body of Christ; when one part hurts we all hurt. They understand Jesus’ teachings about the weak, the lame, the outcast.
Practically, teach your children to be quiet when the sick person is sleeping. Let them take in a tray of food or bring in a bouquet of flowers from outside. Encourage them to make a homemade card, read a story, or pray for the sibling who isn’t well.
2. When school buffets: Four of our children had the same teacher for junior AP English. She was a brilliant woman, with very liberal beliefs about many subjects, including faith. One of her best qualities as a teacher was challenging her students’ thinking. She became famous in the school for a lesson known as “the hot seat.” She placed a chair in the middle of the room, and the students circled their desks around that center chair. One by one the students took their turns on the hot seat to be questioned by this teacher to see how they could defend their beliefs.
It was a great opportunity for our kids to feel the intense focus, the debate, and the challenges to their thinking. This teacher knew, just like we did, that these students would experience similar situations ahead on the college campus and in grown up life. But the students knew, just like we did, that the hot seat wasn’t an easy place to be. We were grateful for this trial while they were still living with us, where we could encourage and discuss the experience with them.
Coming home on those afternoons and debriefing at dinner was always a safe, welcoming respite for our teens. They learned their doubts and questions were healthy and necessary as we talked. Yes, they experienced some insecurity, anxiety and even embarrassment on the hot seat, but it was an important trial that helped them become more grounded in their own faith. And we were waiting at home to love them through it. Create an atmosphere of open conversation for your children to debrief at the end of every school day. Control your shock. Learn to ask questions. Listen to what is both said and unsaid.
3. When relationships shake: Not making the team, learning the award went to someone else, being rejected by friends, and experiencing conflict with a teacher are all storms that pounded our kids. And then there was the internal brewing of unseen insecurities. All teens experience not liking themselves for a season or for years.
One of our sons went through a long season of suffering as a teen. Not only was he dealing with a health-related issue that turned his world upside down, but it seemed for a season that everything was falling apart for him. I remember thinking that if we, his mom and dad, didn’t believe in him, that perhaps no one else ever would. He didn’t know what he was good at anymore. He was struggling in school and his teachers didn’t believe in him. He was picking on his siblings who didn’t like him in return. It was a long, lonely journey, which I would have changed in an instant if I’d had the power of God. But God had purposes in mind far beyond what we could see.
We had to wait. Until then our job as parents was to love, encourage, and listen to him as we prayed…and prayed… and prayed. Our home was literally the only place of safety in those years for our son. And he would say he sometimes felt alone even inside those four walls because our best intentions still fell short. We could not do for him what only God could; nurture and heal his wounded soul. In time God did that and today, 20 years later, he is a remarkable godly man.
There isn’t a home on earth that won’t face these common difficulties. What makes God’s people different in these storms is how Christian moms and dads see opportunities to sink roots deeper into the Rock of Christ.
Not every house is built on a secure foundation, but yours can be.
Size, ownership, or the builder don’t matter. What does matter is the presence of God in your heart and in the heart of your home.
May you make your dwelling a shelter in the storms of life so that your family learns this eternal truth, “And He shall be the stability of your times” (Isaiah 33:6). The Holy Spirit is our helper and guide, leading us to make our house a home that follows the words of Jesus.