WHEN THE TOWERS FALL: Rebuilding Your Life in the Rubble, Part 2
In this series of blogs I'm looking at how we can recover from disaster - whether that disaster is self-inflicted or thrust upon us.
I believe we can move from helpless passivity to creative activity, however dire our circumstances may seem.
We can make choices in the chaos that will determine whether we live life again or simply exist - whether we thrive or survive.
In my last blog I suggested that our first choice should be, 'don't - whatever you do - lose hope.'
Today I want to offer a second choice.
Before I tell you what that is I'm going to describe a dream I had in February of this year, when life in many ways couldn't have looked bleaker.
Here's what I saw.
I was standing on a beach looking out to sea. There was a strong wind blowing, almost gale force. The sky was shifting from light to dark grey. Birds were flying at speed inland, faster than the scudding clouds.
As I peered into the distance I saw to my horror that a huge wave - a massive tsunami - was rolling towards the coast where I was standing. It felt like it was over one hundred feet high. It was pitch black in colour and filled the entire horizon.
As I strained my eyes I saw that there was a word written in gargantuan letters on the wave. The word - cast in a serrated, elongated and sharpened font (like those used by serial killers) - was 'inertia.'
As I read that, I didn't fully understand what it meant (I'm not a physicist) but I did understand what it signified.
It signified a choice.
A choice to yield to the wave and let it wash me up on the beach.
Or a choice to confront the wave and try to conquer it.
Somehow, even in my unnerved state, I knew there was only one choice.
I looked around and saw to my surprise a small wooden boat, no longer than ten feet, lying on the gravelly sand. It had a furled, burgundy canvas sail around its mast.
I ran to the boat and pushed it through the surf into the breakers. I jumped in and loosened the sail, tying and tightening it to the boat. I steered my flimsy coracle towards the inky tsunami which had now built to a prodigious height in front of me.
I remember climbing the wave with an unnatural, supernatural speed until I was almost vertical.
My little sail was puffed out like a proud chest.
Then, in the twinkling of an eye, I was over the dark summit and descending on the far side of the wave.
The colour of the sky changed, like the sea, from black to grey and then from grey to blue.
I could see the rays of the sun on the distant horizon, bursting through the clouds.
And then the dream, like the wave, was behind me.
When I woke up the next day I had a new resolve in my spirit.
I was not going to give in to helpless passivity.
I was going to choose creative activity.
That morning I was due to keep an appointment with the Job Seekers Plus office. I phoned to cancel. They asked my name. When I told them, they said they had no record of an appointment with me that day.
Clearly God had different plans.
I was not meant to go on the dole and watch daytime TV.
He wanted me to do something.
Many of you reading this will know what it is to be confronted by the overwhelming temptation of inertia.
Inertia in physics is the tendency of an object to maintain its state of rest unless acted upon by external forces.
When we lose everything - whether that's our mobility, our health, our marriage, our jobs, our money, whatever - a terrible dark wave can often start building up in front of us. That wave is - a profound disinclination to act or move.
But the Father has better things for his children.
He wants us to make a defining decision - to choose creative activity over helpless passivity. He wants us to act. He wants us to decide to do something. He doesn't want us to wait for some great act of philanthropy from someone else. Nor does he want us to manipulate or orchestrate for it.
That's the entitlement mentality of the orphan.
God wants us to launch our little boats and conquer the wave like heroic sons and daughters.
I have a close friend who is doing just that right now.
She has just lost her husband. She and he were deeply in love - deeply united spiritually and wonderfully affectionate physically. They were everything a Christian married couple should be. They were a radiant example.
Then death barged into her life like a thief and stole him from her.
She could have given in to inertia.
She could have allowed herself to be washed up on the beach.
But quickly she sensed the promptings of the Holy Spirit. She decided it was time to DO something creative, compassionate, community oriented.
What a daughter of God!
She decided to conquer the wave rather than let the wave conquer her.
You may be in precisely this situation today.
You're not one of those Christians who lives in the shallow waters, pretending everything is fine and dandy, proclaiming that you're living in constant triumph.
You're a real Christian, someone who knows brokenness as well as blessing, tragedy as well as triumph.
You know that the word of the Lord to you is to push the boat into deep waters (Luke 5.4).
So ignite the pilot light of heroism in your soul.
Steer your boat towards the wave.
Set your sail.
If you set your sail, He will fill it.
And you will discover the glorious truth of Psalm 18.16-19 (in the Message):
But me he caught - reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos, that void in which I was drowning. They hit me when I was down, but God stood by me. He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved, surprised to be loved.