A sign sprang up on the front lawn of Laws Mennonite Church last week. It is strategically placed so that it is seen by traffic at the corner of Carpenter Bridge and Canterbury Roads. I looked at the bright red against the clean white siding and thought about how GOOD the outside of our church building has been looking.
Certain Man has been keeping the grass trimmed and has been weed eating and spraying the weeds and trimming the roses that he planted around the church sign last year. To see the outside of our church, it would be difficult to tell how devastating the destruction was inside.
I looked at the pictures, and thought that my heart would break. But it didn’t take too long for people to get in there and get things cleaned up.
The thing was, I didn’t go in for even a casual glance until about a month ago. We’ve been waiting on insurance and blueprints and approvals and permits until it has seemed like a never ending battle. And I really didn’t want to see it. But when our offspringin’s were all home for our stay-cation, we decided to stop by the church one afternoon and see how things were coming along. I had looked hard at the pictures, imagining how it looked, thinking about our empty church, but nothing could have prepared me for the wave of emotion as I stood and looked about the church. The hardest thing of all was that, as I stood there that day, I felt so strongly in my heart that my Sweet Mama would not live long enough to see things put back to right and it made me almost sick.
It wasn’t the dirt and the smoke and the smell as much as it was just the barren emptiness and the lack of anything familiar.
I stood in the emptiness and wept for all that had been lost and for all that was so uncomfortable.
The other day I was reading in Psalms in my Bible reading and in Psalm 74:3, I was stopped cold by these words:
“Make your way through these old ruins: the enemy wrecked everything in the Temple.”
I felt God nudging at my heart, and I thought about the ruins of my heart, and how completely devastated I’ve been feeling at times. I thought about how the enemy seeks to steal and to kill and to destroy. How he seeks to wreck everything in the temple of my heart. I thought about how it can look like everything is okay on the outside, when inside there is this barren emptiness and ruin. And so often the ruin of our hearts is not at our instigation or even the intention of others, but rather the enemy of our souls. Just as the plan to torch our Church had less to do with Joseph Skochelak and Alex Harrington than an insidious master design that has left a lot more in ruins than a building. Last week was the sentencing for these two young men, and my heart aches for them and their families.
“Oh Lord Jesus! Make your way through these old ruins: the enemy wrecked everything in the Temple. In the ruins of my heart, in the ruins of our church building, in the ruins of the lives of Joey and Alex, may you make order and beauty from the chaos, devastation and destruction. Even as the sign has gone up on our church property to indicate remodeling and repair, may Hope and Peace and Love and Forgiveness all be the signs upon Your Territory, our hearts, so that those watching may see that you are in the business of walking through ruins and bringing something new and strong and beautiful where there was only ugly emptiness.”
“. . . I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you.” John 14:8