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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

When the Cracks Start To Show

I can see this building from my apartment. It's a pretty nondescript building. On most days it just kind of blends in with the surroundings - apartment buildings on one side, a church and cemetery on the other.

But then it rains.

The building becomes patchy, showing all the different, half-thought-through paint jobs. Places where it's maybe had a little work done, places it still needs some, and places where water is clearly seeping in through the walls. 

The building is a mess.

But you wouldn't know it on a sunny day. Rain brings out the building's true character. The rain isn't what caused the (initial) damage. It was there all along - the rain only made it more visible... and caused more destruction.

When life's rainstorms come - that is when who we really are comes to the front. It's easy to look happy and content when the sun is out and the birds are singing. It's easy to be creative at work when everything is great at home. It's easy to stay patient with the kiddos when no one is sick, everyone is getting full nights of sleep, and money isn't a concern. It's easy to go about your day when you're healthy and happy. It's easy to be involved in people's lives around you when you feel fulfilled in your personal life. It's easy to act okay (even if you're not) when - to those around us - everything seems to be going well.

But when things aren't going our way, or tragedy strikes - that's when who we really are on the inside comes to the forefront. It's easy to botch a project at work when you and your spouse are arguing. It's easy to snap and yell at your kids when you're sleep deprived, the kids have the flu, and you just got a credit card bill in the mail. It's easy to get discouraged when you're overwhelmed and exhausted. It's easy to shut people out of your life when it feels like too much of an effort. 

The cracks... they start to show when the rain begins to fall. 

So what do we do? Because the rain is going to come, whether we like it or not. Do we find a giant umbrella? Do we cover ourselves up in scaffolding? Do we hang a "condemned" sign out on the front door?

No. We put the work in to fix the cracks. We use the time when it's not raining to fill in any gaps, rebuild walls, hire professionals if we don't know how to do it ourselves (go see a doctor, talk to a therapist, take a class, join a gym, get your nails done), fix any leaks, and admit that you're "under construction".

 We all have things in our lives that make the "rainy season" hard. That may be anxiety, a heath concern, friction at work, stress at home, or financial troubles; and if we don't deal with these things, they begin to define our character. They leech into how we feel about ourselves, how we treat others, how we relate to God and the world around us.

Thankfully, the answers don't lie within ourselves.  Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Psalm 46:1-3 says, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." 
Contrary to common misconception, nowhere in the Bible does it say "God won't give you more than you can handle." There are plenty of times where God gives us more than we can handle. In fact, we are supposed to get to a point where we realize that we can't handle it. We were never meant to handle it. We were meant to give it over to God. God is the one who is there to carry those things that just feel to heavy and like they are going to crack our foundation. That is why we are called to build our "house"/our lives, on the rock.

Matthew 7 tells us the story of two men; one wise man who built his house on the rock, the other a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. When the rains and floods came, the one that was built on the rock stood firm, while the one built on the sand collapsed. We are called to be like the wise man, with his foundation on the rock. It is not because of the builder that the house didn't fall, it was because of the strong foundation - Christ.

We are living in a very self-satisfying and self-centered society. There are "Christian" self-help books that barely mention God, let alone leaning on Him rather than our own understanding (girl, your face is washed, move on). If we build all of our hopes and dreams on ourselves... who is there to turn to when the cracks start to form, and it all starts to fall apart?

We all have cracks, bruises and stains. But unless we deal with them, they become real problems that eventual shape and form our character. 

There is a loving and gentle God, who doesn't look at your imperfections as justification to bulldoze you. He takes the hurt and overwhelming feelings, uses them as part of your story, and helps you to become whole again. So, when the cracks start to show, and you can smell the rain in the air, know that you are not alone.

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