A Tale Of Two Houses
A strange sight greeted motorists in central Georgia on Monday morning (April 13, 2020). Traffic along State Highway 74, between Yatesville and Thomaston, was completely blocked. A house was draped clear across road.
How did the house get on top of the highway? Well, if you’ve been watching the weather news, then you’ve probably heard that severe storms have ravaged the Southeast United States. Many tornadoes touched down, killing at least 22 persons. Of the hundreds of homes destroyed, one victim was this house. The winds lifted it from its foundation and dragged it across the highway. Fortunately, no one was home at the time.
Motorists, however, were delayed for hours and forced to find alternate routes. Nearly a day passed before the Georgia DOT was able to drag the house from the roadway. A news anchorman from Georgia’s Channel 2 stated that, in all his thirty years of reporting, he’s never seen anything like it.
But in some countries, houses blocking highways are far from rare. This is particularly the case in China, where rapid road construction and stubborn home owners have given rise to “Nail Houses.” Nail houses occur wherever highways and construction projects are forced to “build around” homeowners who refuse to sell their patch of property. The result is houses left smack dab in the middle of four-lane highways or towering skyscrapers built around some small decrepit house. These homeowners deliberately obstructed the way of others, forcing others to go around them.
But this “house in the highway” is very different from a nail house. This family’s home was knocked into the way of motorists by a severe storm. The owners had no intention or desire to block traffic. But a storm forced them into that situation. I’m sure they’d like to get their house out of everyone’s way as soon as possible. Though being in other peoples’ way is the least of their troubles. Their house is probably unsalvageable as well as unlivable. Now they’re homeless.
This reminds me of those people who sometimes get in our way. Because of financial or medical problems, they’re forced to ask us for help. They did not ask to be afflicted with cancer or some debilitating condition. They didn’t ask to be separated from their job. But storms came into their lives and knocked them from a firm foundation right in the middle of our path. And now, because of their overwhelming needs, they’ve become a burden to others. And being a burden, is torture to a person who’s accustomed to standing on his or her own two feet.
Please don’t confuse them with stubborn “nail house” owners, who bring their problems on themselves and have no remorse over being in other peoples’ way. No, the needy people in our lives are akin to the family whose house was knocked across the highway. Their problems are unavoidable.
And they would gladly trade places with us, if that were possible. They’d love to be the benefactor instead of the burden. But not out of envy or vengeance. Rather, having suffered the humiliation of being in need themselves, they’d more readily donate their help to others. Of course, none of us would ever want to swap places with them, despite all our grumbling. When it comes right down to it, we’d much rather be the “inconvenienced person” than the humiliated person in need.
Therefore, be generous with your time and resources. In the wake of the pandemic, there’ll be lots of people in need and many opportunities for all of us to either be the blessing or (may God spare us) the burden. Which role would you rather play?
PRAYER: Dear Father in Heaven, please awaken my conscience and create empathy and compassion within me. Let me be the blessing rather than the burden, I pray. Grant that I will never turn Jesus away by withholding my time and resources from those He names His brothers and sisters. Amen.