Life has been rough of late.
Not rough like broken wrists rough, but difficult. Lots of pulling and stretching and compressing and heating and refining. And yes, that’s vague but that’s just a peek into what it feels like. It feels like I’m being reformed into some other shape, some other way.
And last night, about one in the morning it was, I was awake because of a one-year-old who had a nightmare and is cutting teeth. I was awake and, as most people will attest, few good thoughts come when you’re exhausted and listening to a child scream while you wait for them to calm down. There’s a peculiar sort of agitation brought on by a screaming child that, in my opinion, could be used to extract a confession from the most hardened of men.
And a confession, of sorts, came from me. But not how you think. Sometimes when I get overly tired and my mind wants to wander, it finds the footprints of God. It’s not every time, mind you, and I won’t brag about any kind of specialness imbued to me by the God of the universe. No, it’s just that sometimes I sort of see Him in the dark. And that’s what happened last night.
I have been leading my kids, every night after we eat, to pray and ask God to change our situation. To lean down and talk to us. To be with us. To draw us close to Himself. And He answered in a peculiar way.
I saw in my mind, a house made of matchsticks. It was intricate, complex, with thousands of matchsticks. And as I watched it, I heard myself say, “See your house made of matchsticks, see your sins.” And I realized what I was envisioning was a metaphor, a way of seeing something that’s hard to often articulate. I was seeing my sins as having built something, having developed some structure, grand and varied. “And then place your house of matchsticks before the flood of God’s love,” I heard myself say. And I could see this large house of matchsticks, maybe three feet tall in total, sat on a muddy bank. And then I saw a river, flashing and crashing and frothing and rushing forward down a ravine. And the house of matchsticks was obliterated by the torrent. It was absolutely destroyed. And then I heard myself say, “Can you pick out a single matchstick now?” And I realized that all I could see was the water. All I could see was the power and the raging passion of the flood. I could no more pick out a single matchstick than I could have captured a droplet of the mighty flow.
As a Christian, one of the biggest lies we tend to fall for is that we can somehow “out-sin” God’s grace. That we could somehow overwhelm Him with the number of our sins or the magnitude of them. That we could somehow negate the force of His love by having too many sins or having them joined in some complex way that makes them stand in defiance of His ability to forgive. And so I saw it, at least a glimmer of that idea, and how utterly ridiculous it is. I could have built not just a matchstick house, but a real house; a mansion or a skyscraper. Neither could have stood under the flood. Neither could have opposed the God who chose to love me.
It’s only my mind, my broken and foolish six inches of grey matter, that demands that my matchstick house is something other than a matchstick house. And it’s only grace that He allowed me that moment, there in the dark, to see His light. This post might not have been “for you” but I thought it beared sharing. Do with it what you will, but if you are the praying kind, would you pray for us?