It’s been a season of shaking. From a worldwide pandemic, fear of sickness and death, economic shutdown, school closings, job loss, the death of George Floyd, and the exposure of the ugly sin of racism and the response to it, everything that seemed stable in January is now standing on its head.
And it all seemed to happen in a moment.
One moment, I was sending my kids to school and sports practices, and the next moment, we were alone in our house for days. One moment, our portfolio was predictable, our projected income secure, and the next moment, everything turned downhill…fast. One moment, we all knew racism existed lurking in the shadows and the human heart was capable of deep darkness and sin, and the next moment, it leaped out of the shadows to the forefront of everyone’s conscience, heart, and mind.
It’s been a season of shaking in the natural realm as well.
A week and a half ago, a tornado blew through the town of Independence, Texas where we have a home next door to my in-laws and down the hill from my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.
One moment the skies were blue and the sun was shining, and the next moment, wind was whipping fast enough to twist the tops off of trees, break 2000 pound limbs in half, and uproot 150 year old trees.
As I drove through the town of Chappell Hill towards Independence and surveyed the damage, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Entire root structures of 200 year old trees had been torn out of the earth in a moment. Limbs littered the side of the highway and broken fences sagged underneath the weight of bark, limbs, and twisted branches.
I was not at the ranch when the tornado hit, but my daughter Caroline was there, along with my niece, Abby. They had been out riding horses and had come inside to get out of the heat.
My father-in-law had driven his open-aired jeep to a shop five minutes down the road and was on his way back when the clouds, hail, and wind came in so fast he could not see five feet in front in him.
My mom was there with her childhood friend from San Antonio. They had just driven up to the house and walked their bags inside when the storm hit and a 1500 pound limb came crashing down on Jeannie’s car, splintering the windshield.The electrical box was ripped off of the side of our house, and another limb came crashing down onto our back porch, ripping out the railing.
But in the midst of all the shaking and the destruction left in its wake, there is much to be thankful for. By the grace of God and the sovereignty of God, the things that were meant to stay standing are still standing. Trees over the roofs of our homes are still firmly planted in the ground. My father in law emerged unscathed from the storm. My daughter and niece, my mom and her friend, are all in one piece when they easily might not have been.
But the things that were meant to be shaken were shaken. And while the clean up efforts have been extensive, there has been great comfort in that for me. God allowed the shaking. He was sovereign over the uprooting. And while dealing with the uprooting is hard, knowing He allowed it and is still Lord over it has helped me have peace of mind while piecing things together after the storm.
As we survey the season we are in and the damage in our church, our culture, and in the lives of people around us, it’s easy to become overwhelmed at the clean up efforts in front of us. It’s easy to become paralyzed and stay stuck in our fear and fragility.
But take comfort in this – nothing has been uprooted in our culture and in our lives that God has not allowed. We might be standing at the base of some pretty big trees and large, extensive root systems in our lives, churches, and culture that God is wanting to deal with and take out, but He has been purposeful and selective in the shaking.
So don’t miss it. Don’t race by or wish by this opportunity to do the good and necessary clean up work for what God has allowed to be shaken. Don’t just return to life as normal without making the effort to get rid of the debris God has allowed to be strewn all over the place.
Clean up effort is hard work, and it’s usually inconvenient work. But it’s good work, and it’s work that is necessary for us to do.
It’s hard work to learn how to sit still and listen.
It’s inconvenient to have to stop and listen long enough to name the sin in our own hearts so that we know how to repent and clear the debris around us.
But it’s necessary work to learn to see ourselves as we really are – not as we wish we could be. It’s hard to have to admit we have hurt others through our pride, defensiveness, fear, and even hate. It’s hard to admit that we are real sinners, not the perfect people or church we wish we could be.
But true confession is the groundwork for true change. We cannot turn our attention to the new things God wants to plant until the old things are ripped out, chopped up, and cleared.
In this season that we are in, we must remember this: God sovereignly uproots. But He also plants. He purposely tears down, but He also builds. And every season of harvest and abundance I’ve ever experienced, every shaking. Uprooting. Tearing. Clearing.
Will the good work of uprooting and clearing always feel pleasant? No. Will it require the hard work and difficult work of honesty and confession? Yes. Will it require uprooting everything that is not built on the solid ground of relationship with Jesus Christ? Yes. But the harvest we will reap, the seeds we will sow, the roots we put into place will carry us and our children for generations to come.
“Blessed is the one who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree, planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, she prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3
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