This week some walls came-a-tumblin’ down. Inside the sanctuary of my church, we began a three day tear down—after 30 years of non-stop use, our church home is being remodeled, reworked, and being called The Restoration Project. A few hundred of us showed up with tools, axes, gloves and elbow grease, and the demolition began. Crowbars creaked planks apart, axes were wielded with aplomb, and lighting fixtures came down; the people of my church earnestly tackled the demolition just as earnestly as they have tackled missions trips and singing with their whole heart during worship. We’re tearing down to build up again and to carry on the vision of those who have gone before us. It’s one which I know they would approve– that wonderful, blessed cloud of witnesses (some in glory and some still here) cheering us on and looking forward to what will be built on the foundation they have laid for us.
And so it seemed fitting this week that our women’s ministry began a study in The Book of Nehemiah. In this book, Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem with a broken heart to rebuild broken walls, and broken lives after a devastating time in the life of God’s people. I think often of my own life and times God has found it necessary to tear down walls of unbelief, pretension and judgment. I am grateful, because as painful as the tearing down was, those dysfunctional places were reformed with faith, sincerity and grace. That’s what I call restoration:
“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” Hosea 6:1-3
This framed my thinking this week, as I channel surfed and happened upon a gospel concert by Alan Jackson. I found myself weeping as I heard the familiar hymns “Are You Washed in the Blood?”, “Blessed Assurance”, and “How Great Thou Art” sung with simplicity and clarity. And I found comfort in the eternal purposes of God, knowing that I belong to Him, and no matter what storms and trials ensue, no one can take me out of His hand. Ever.
It was raining last evening, an early summer humidity that is rare in Southern California. Who knew? I grabbed my umbrella and we decided to go to a special screening of the 60th Anniversary of Singin’ In the Rain – one of our all-time favorites, and whose poster gloriously decorates my home office. There is nothing like seeing a favorite film on the big screen “in revival”, laughing and clapping to familiar scenes and favorite lines with an audience that appreciates them. I appreciate them so well in fact, that I’ve often used these lines when I teach Bible studies or do workshops. Here are a few of my favorites:
“Dignity, always dignity.”
“And I can’t stand him!”
“… all our hard work ain’t been in vain for nothin’!”
“People! I ain’t people!”
It was when I watched Gene Kelly, though, that famous profile and athletic dancing style defying puddles and laughing the face of downpours, that this week came together. I was reminded of God’s grace, for even as He corrects through seasons of tearing down, weeping and rain, we are always secure in His love:
“I’m singin’ in the rain
Just singin’ in the rain
What a glorious feelin’
I’m happy again.
I’m laughing at clouds.
So dark up above
The sun’s [Son’s] in my heart
And I’m ready for love.”