And then there was one. The house next door to us was hauled away a few days ago. The move had been in the works for a long time. The neighbors who used to live there have been gone for five years, and the house has long since been sitting empty. The movers put it up on I-beams some time ago, and we knew it was just a matter of time until they hooked up a big truck and took it away.
But it was still a bit of a surprise to drive up Hickory Street the other day and see a big empty lot where a nice house once stood. So now our house is the last one left on our part of North 17th Street.
Now, that's not an altogether bad thing. The Texas Tech Health Science Center, just east of us, has announced exciting plans to expand their operations, to open a new School of Public Health and to build a new student center, which will certainly be a good thing for those studying there. We need people trained in public health issues, and goodness knows, we desperately NEED the nurses, pharmacists, and other health care workers that will come from there.
The neighbors that used to live next door have moved a few blocks away, but we still see them, and the kids still participate in our activities here. (And the cats that used to live under the house there - well, I'm sure they've found new homes as well!) But it's still sad to see an empty lot where a friend's house once stood. And it's sad to think about the good times and fellowship we had with those around us, who are now gone.
Life goes on. We learn, fairly early on, that change is part of life. We cannot hold on to the present, no matter how hard we try. Nothing in this life is permanent. Neighbors move away - sometimes new neighbors move in. Jobs end. Children grow up and leave home. Parents grow old and die. That is the ultimate reality in this world.
C.S. Lewis once pointed out that no good thing in this life can be permanent - that's part of God's design. If we mistake the blessings that we have here for eternal joy, then we might forget that we were meant for higher, greater things. Blessings are meant to encourage us, to strengthen us, and yes, to BLESS us, but no blessing in this world is eternal.
So when a neighbor moves, or a house is gone, or any other blessing that we have been enjoying is taken away, we have two options. We can either become angry, sullen and depressed that it is gone. Or we be can be appreciative that we had that blessing to enjoy for a time, and give thanks to the Giver of every good and perfect gift, trusting that He has even better blessings in store for us.
God give me the grace to choose to be thankful.