It began as a dream...
"My first memory is of the meadow I grew up in. The air was cool and refreshing and the sky was always dark and full of stars. It was constantly quiet and peaceful there, as if the whole world were at rest. I remember walking through the tall grass; it was soft to the touch and higher than my waist. It was a good start to life, safe and calm. I quickly began constructing a permanent residence there, cutting and drying the grass to form my home. It felt like ages had been poured into the construction .... gathering materials and making the preparations to spend my days there. It felt like a dream that may never come true. I had put as much blood into its construction as sweat from all the thistles that had found their way into what made my walls. When it was finished it felt more like the raising of a child than a dwelling. I was familiar with every piece of straw I had tucked in all the nooks and crannies and I named each room per the designs passed down from generation to generation. When winters would come the walls kept me warm enough, and the rain only leaked through in a few spots but it was fairly easy to patch up come sunshine. Occasionally a wall or two would fall when the ground would shake but it was a simple matter to pick up the pieces and patch up the holes when things calmed down. And when the darkness outside would begin to feel like too much, its walls brought me warmth and comfort. It was for all intents and purposes perfect. I never wanted for anything. Time crept by in a blissful blur, each day wrapped in wonder with the stars above coupled with the comfort and safety of my home. I was always looking at the stars, and maybe that's why I never noticed the road that had formed before my door. It took the only other man I'd ever met to get me to notice it, as he came walking down the winding dirt towards me. My eyes were immediately drawn to the evident joy in his step and the odd way his torch seemed to eat up the air around it with more purpose than a typical flame. His light reached me several moments before he did and I had to squint at the unnatural brightness it gave off.
It was so strange, we didn't exchange a verbal greeting. There was almost some kind of unspoken agreement between us, as if our meeting had been planned long ago. We stood in silence for a moment, then he asked me, "Would you like to know?"
I paused. "Know what?"
He chuckled, "If it's real."
"If what's real?" I asked.
He laughed again "I mean your home, the field, all of it."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"I mean to say I hold the truth here in my hand, can you see it? Whatever these flames touch will be revealed. If it is truth, it will not even notice the heat, but if it is a lie it will burn to ash."
I stood for a moment considering the strangeness of what he just said, both weighing the meaning of it and somehow understanding it was true. He really did hold in his hands the answer to a question I did not even know I had. Was it real? I don't know. It had been so good but what if it wasn't true? If I let him walk away would I ever trust these walls again? Would I ever truly feel safe? I stood in place for what felt like days as I weighed my options. He patiently waited. Eventually I couldn't handle the idea of never knowing so I spoke. "Ok, I want to know." His eyes lit up to match his torch and he leaned passed me to touch his flame to my door. The heat was so sudden and so intense I had to close my eyes, but even through the slammed lids I could see my home burning. Everything I had known was gone. When I opened my eyes again there was just ash beside us. The field had been scorched and the land beneath us was black but the trees at the edge were untouched. My curiosity was immediately replaced with shock and rage. "My home!" I yelled. "How could you? This was all that I had and now it's gone and it's YOUR fault!" I screamed because I knew now that it had all been a lie, but also because I knew it was his fault I had made it my home in the first place. I was furious that he had let me live a lie for so long only to burn it down before me. He took my anger in silence, saying and doing nothing except watch me rage. When I finally said all I needed to be said I took a deep breath, he spoke. "Now you know. And, if you are willing, you can build yourself a new home. Beneath your feet is clay to make bricks so your walls will be strong. And if you are willing to dig further, you will find gold and jewels to make yourself a beautiful home."
This powerful literary image was given to spoken word poet, Eric Clausen, describing a dream he experienced during a season of doubt in his life. A beautiful picture reminding us to ask the deeper questions about what the walls of our faith are built on …
What our parents taught or didn’t for that matter?
Is what I believe based on my ideals or God’s truth?
How do I know God is who he says he is?
How can God use my storms to make me stronger ?
How do I know this God stuff and the Bible are even real anyway?
Don’t be afraid to ask the questions ...your journey of discovery can help you rebuild even stronger than what is already there. Don’t be afraid to let what you’ve built burn away and allow God’s grace to help you start again.
WORD: Matthew 7:24-27 ESV “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
DIG DEEPER: Do you have a “life” verse? A passage of scripture or a specific verse or Bible story that you go back to in your mind when life can get a little shaky. For me, it’s always been Jeremiah 29:11, the verse on which our faith community was founded. It keeps me focused when things get shaken. Write your verse or passage down somewhere so you can remember it.