The Things We See Now Will Soon Be Gone

Several weeks ago my toddler son and I went to St. Louis, Missouri for a few days to spend time with extended family.

St. Louis is a beautiful, historical city, and I have had family residing there since the 1800s. Coupling my love of history in general with my love of family history in particular, I decided we would spend one of our days taking a driving tour of the city.

On my family tree, I keep record of the addresses of family member’s former homes, so I mapped out a city tour that included driving by about a dozen of those locations.

I had bittersweet emotions seeing the neighborhoods my family has lived in over the last one hundred-plus years; where they lived, loved, sometimes hurt, and laid their heads at night.

The other thing that struck me that was both fascinating and difficult was the disparity in the condition of the homes and neighborhoods.

On one end of the spectrum was a home in mint condition, on the historical registry, in a neighborhood so beautiful it would bring a tear to an old house lover’s eye.
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A few of the homes were in nice, well-cared for neighborhoods, and a few were in neighborhoods on a downhill slump.

On the other end of the spectrum was the home where my Grandma grew up. What was once a beautiful, red brick row house, is now vacant with boarded up and broken windows, in a neighborhood with street walking prostitutes, drug dealers on the corner, and an incredibly high crime rate.


A whole other experience in itself was going to the part of St. Louis my parents called home their junior high and high school years, and where both sets of my grandparents lived until not too long ago. They lived just a couple miles from Ferguson, the community that has unfortunately made national news in the last year due to a police shooting death that has caused controversy, anger, division, protests and rioting, and triggered a national conversation on race relations.

I drove through the area on a quiet Sunday morning, got to see a few churches letting out, and got to take a peek at the revitalized business district. I also happened to see some news crews and satellite vans setting up and didn’t know what they were doing there. That afternoon, I mentioned to a family member what I had seen and they told me the news was there because it was the one year anniversary of the shooting death. Sadly, later that evening, rioting broke out again, and a local protestor opened fire in the street and in turn was shot by the police. The next day, a State of Emergency was declared in the area. Despite all of the upheaval, many of the individuals who call that part of St. Louis home still take great pride in and are loyal to their neighborhoods.

Did it hurt to see my Grandma’s childhood home abandoned, save for the occasional squatter, in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the country? A little. Does it make my heart ache to see the area where my parents grew up in such turmoil, with much of the area not in the greatest condition? Of course.

As I took what turned out to be an emotional and impactful tour through my family history, there were Biblical Truths I held onto that gave me abundant comfort.

The Bible teaches there is, and always has been, a season for everything, and that includes homes, neighborhoods, cities, and nations. It is part of humanity.

For everything there is a season…A time to be born and a time to die…A time to tear down and a time to build up…A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance…A time to tear and a time to mend. Ecclesiastes 3:1a, 2a, 3b, 4, 7a (NLT)

In comparison to eternity with God, our time on earth is just a blink. And in that blink, it’s not places or material goods that matter. It is our love for and our relationships with family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, those in need, and most importantly, our relationship with God, that will endure when all else fades away.

Rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:18b (NLT)

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One Comment

  1. I grew up in Jennings, which borders Ferguson. My family has all moved away from the area so I have not been back since the early 80’s. Too sad to see my childhood memories in such a state of decay and despair.

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