Unsuspecting birds sometimes fly into the large set of windows at the front of our home. They hit this solid wall of delineation between outside and in thinking they can swoop up into the high cathedral ceiling and find a perch. But they are met with a rude awakening.
We each periodically bump against walls unexpectedly, misreading what we think we see.
A process of very high heat followed by a rapid cooling of sand, soda, and lime produces sheets of dense yet transparent liquid which may deceive our senses into thinking there is nothing of substance to avoid. Surely there is space for freedom to exercise spiritual gifts out in the open. Surely the sky is the limit. But an inevitably painful experience occurs when we encounter an invisible wall positioned where it wasn’t anticipated, or set in a light which conceals its true nature yet tells us this affront is very real. Such a misjudgement abruptly alters our journey should we fly full speed into an unbending obstruction and fall wounded, stunned.
Whatever it was, it was hard, maybe harder than anything we’d hit before.
Perhaps as servant leaders we had seen glimpses of the ‘Branch of Righteousness’ reflected in the lives of those with whom we live and therefore swooped into conversations of collective mission only to discover that hidden behind externally similar vocabulary and written statements of visions were solid walls of resistance impervious to the height and width and depth and breadth of the gospel message.
A fiery protection of the past or blasts of a cold rejection of future vision fuelled by faith may have been heated and cooled in quick succession to conceal brittle bonds of commitment to the covenants once entered giving false appearances of openness and common ground … and we now feel the shattered shards embedded in areas of our spirit exposed to this defensive shield upon impact.
Tall barriers clear as crystal, strong as garrisons of missiles hidden to the eye, hit us hard and mess with our head. These are the walls which take us off guard, seemingly rising up out of nowhere. Even in hindsight they are difficult to fully perceive, nowhere more troubling than in the contexts of close relationships or faith communities, and for whatever reason, we don’t see until it is too late.
But when the deep colours of truth are added to the glasnost and perestroika of reform and relationship at every level, it becomes easier to see what we are dealing with and to make real change within and without. Flying near the translucent qualities of glass walls stained with honest hues, we are better equipped to miss the headache of crashing without any warning.
Outwardly circumspect of circumstances controlled by others, and inwardly respectful of the ongoing work of sanctification and healing, we pray for discernment to truly know what we are seeing to respond in the Spirit with love and forgiveness, generous latitude and a faithful unfolding of how we too must change to be a clearer reflection of his open love.
I’ve seen hurt huddled in human form in dejected disillusionment waiting for heads to stop spinning after such a blow. It makes me weep and keeps me calling out to him who knows each one by name. He’s standing there with you, closer than your breath.
I’ve also been the one sitting dazed on the deck needing the compassion of a gentle voice, needing to land in the cup of gracious love extended by the God who sees each little one fall, who holds us in the palm of his purposeful hand to be made whole in him.
We are invited to lift up throbbing heads and hearts to see his hand reaching down for us through the glassy eyes of dying love on a cross. He breaks down dividing walls between God and humanity, one another, and the disintegrated state of division in our souls. In due time, he will lift us up to a place in the highest heavens in Christ Jesus, much higher than the cathedral ceilings of human effort or territorial dispute.
Don’t give up on this journey of unexpected bumps … he holds us safe until we fly again.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
‘Lord, you are our loving Head, our longing Friend, aching to be the balm for our souls as you polish your perfect work in and around us, breaking down both visible and invisible walls which divide so we will come to live in vulnerable openness to one another without fear of surprising rebuttals untrue to who we are in you.
Help us as we push our faces up against the windows of our souls held by love in the search to know ourselves as we are known by you. And help us hear the whoosh of eagle’s wings coming to our rescue should we collide with unseen walls deterring our great desire to see your whole church living openly together in the air of your amazing grace and love.
For those recovering from startling bumps, hold them securely until they dare to fly again, changed and unafraid of walls that fall at your command. Clear our vision to move in the freedom of your love flowing freely through us with wisdom and clear discernment for the understanding of our times and days. Amen.’