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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Beware of crumbling walls!


My sad life's dilapidated, a falling-down barn; 
      build me up again by your Word. 
(Psalm 119:28 The Message)

I don't exactly live in the country here in Arizona, but there are some old farms out in the more suburban regions around Phoenix.  Most of these are dairy farms, but there are a few that date back many years that were once working farms that produced crops of corn, cotton, alfalfa, and the like.  Most are torn down now, with newly erected subdivisions, strip-malls, and business complexes built on their once vast expanses.  Yet, in the middle of all this "development" there stands one old home with an old barn / lean-two structure for the farm implements.  This home stands in terrible disrepair with the lean-two missing sheets of roofing materials.  The entire property is encircled with chain-link fencing erected to keep people out of this "unsafe" property.

Most of us would say this property is "dilapidated" - it has been reduced to ruin or decay.  This could have occurred due to neglect - the owners simply not making any investment into keeping it up.  It may be a result of simple age - nothing lasts forever.  Or maybe it is just because of a lack of resources - the owners unable to keep it up because their source of income was drying up.  Regardless, the buildings stand in total ruin - they are beyond repair.  The most desirable thing for the city to do is to tear them down.  As they stand, they are a fire hazard, an entrapment potential, and an eye-sore.

Let me pose a question today - have you observed the condition of your "barns" lately?  I am not speaking of a literal "barns" here - but the condition of your mind, emotions, and spirit.  You see, our minds are like big "barns" - housing all kinds of "stuff" we "put away" for future use.  Without the proper "maintenance", these "barns" fall into disrepair.  Our emotions are like the house that once provided shelter to the many inhabitants - they can be warm and welcoming, or cold and scary.  The spirit is where we make connection with God - like the barns of old, it becomes a storehouse of great comfort when times are lean.

There is something we might miss if we read through this passage quickly - the "barns" of our life don't "fall into" disrepair overnight.  They are "worn down" by what the "elements of life" throw at them.  They stand in need of repair because the investment of time and energy is no longer made to "keep them up".  They no longer seem to serve us well - simply because we have neglected them so long!  David knows the only hope for "repair" is outside of his control - so he goes to God with the request:  "Build me up again!"

There is a state of mind, a condition of our soul, and a desperation in our spirit  that makes God the only hope for our "repair".  In Christian circles, we call this being "restored" - being brought back to useful / productive condition.  David says his only hope for restoration is if God does the work.  How does God choose to do this work of restoration?  It is through the skillful application of his Word.  The Word is the source of all we need to go from a place of dilapidation in mind, emotions, or spirit, into a place of restored usefulness.  

We often don't know the condition of our "barns" because we don't stand back long enough to see them through the eyes of another.  This is why God gives us accountability partners in life - people who help us see the true condition of our "barns".  The owners of that house down the road a ways may not have realized the true condition of their property simply because they were too close to it every day.  Those that pass by it, observing it from "outside", have the "bird's eye view" of the place.  They see the missing shingles, the blown off roofing tin, the leaning beams, and the cracked seams in the mortar.  

Maybe it is time for a full "inspection" of our barns!  In order to recognize the need for repair, we often need the insight of another set of eyes!