The Parable Of The Vacant Lot
There once was a young man that inherited a vacant lot from his father. He had no use for the lot; it was full of junk. The lot had been in the family for generations and it had generations of junk left by preceding generations. It seemed that every generation left a piece of junk that was particular to their time: an old broken down wagon from the 18th century, an old plow from the 19th century, even an old Model T from the 20th century. Junk, junk and more junk. His father left junk from the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. The young man never dreamed that he would ever need the vacant lot, so he dumped some of his own junk on the lot. About ninety percent came from previous family members, and he blamed only ten percent on himself. It was unsightly.
The young man met the girl of his dreams. She really was the girl of his dreams. He dreamt that he met her at a dance. He went to a dance, and there she was, the girl of his dream and more. They fell in love and were engaged. In his haste to have a suitable home for the girl of his dreams, he thought of the vacant lot. There was not time enough for him to clean the lot; their marriage was approaching quickly, but he was resourceful. He decided to build the dream home for the girl of his dreams over the top of all the junk. He covered it up the best he could and began construction.
Oh, they were so happy on their wedding day. Hope springs eternal. They went on a short honeymoon to Utah, then back to work and their brand new home. He carried his beautiful bride over the threshold into their beautiful new home, where they both planned on living happily ever after.
For several years life was bliss. But slowly, things began to change. Children came quickly. Life with all its pressures followed. The dream house was showing signs of wear and tear. His wife began to notice that the house didn’t appear normal. Something didn’t seem right. He noticed it as well. Cracks began to appear in the walls. The vaulted ceiling appeared to be “unvaulting”. The floors seemed to be under some kind of invisible pressure. Windows wouldn’t open. The man spent many hours trying to fix the house. He even took a part time job at a hardware store so he could get a discount on supplies. The pressure on the family was mounting. The harder he worked, the worse it got. He couldn’t keep up; he was sinking fast. Their relationship began to crumble. Finally, in the middle of the night, they awoke to the sound of breaking glass. They found no evidence of a rock or vandalism; however, he already knew the cause.
There was so much pressure on the windows from the faulty foundation that they began to crumble. As the house began to fail, so did their marriage. He worked even harder with very little sleep. Neither could think clearly. Finally she could take it no more. As he came home from work, she was just leaving with the kids. He chased her down the street, crying in her window, begging for another chance. She was resolute. “You have been telling me that things would get better for twenty years; you will never change and neither will your stupid house.” As she sped away, he collapsed to his knees. “Oh God,” he cried. “I have lost my family.” He picked himself from off the ground and slowly walked back to his dream home. Just as he entered the front door, he heard the cracking of timber. The house was coming down. He wasn’t too afraid to move, he just didn’t want to. As the house came down around him he made no attempt to save himself; he was beaten.
When the dust settled, he saw 200 years of generational junk sitting where the front room used to be. An old engine block from 1920 protruded upward into what was left of the living room. Even an old plow from the early 19th century. But most telling of all, was an old beer keg converted to a gas tank, attached to his dad's old Ford pickup. All the junk from generations past now stared him right in the face.
Author’s note: How often do men attempt to build happiness on a foundation of sand? We all try to do a little fixing up for Jesus, a little change here, a little repentance there; a little window dressing here, a little sacrifice there. Often, until all we've built comes crashing down on top of us, our minimal sacrifice offers us minimal results. C.S. Lewis speaks of God coming to rebuild our house; he fixes the drains and other things that we knew needed fixing, but He comes and starts tearing down walls and building towers and gardens and expands far beyond anything we envisioned. He is building us a mansion that he plans to visit and even live in someday.
When I was capable of comprehending the junk I carried from generations past, my journey of recovery and healing began in earnestness. Until then, I had no explanation for the pain and the cycle of dysfunction and misery.
This parable was heaven’s way of teaching me that, indeed, I yet carried stifling burdens heaped upon me through the genetic blueprint.