When the Roof Blows Off

"Let the light of your [God's] face shine on us." Psalm 4:6

"In the same way let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16

Three weeks after the devastating tornado ripped through Goderich Ontario, I took a walk through the damaged area. One particular scene stayed riveted in my mind: the United Church. This once magnificent historic edifice was now irreparably damaged. Demolition had begun, leaving the inside fully exposed to the elements - and to outside view. I saw the bright sunlight shine down on the balcony pews causing their reddish brown hues to glow beautifully against the backdrop of the broken-up walls. Seeing such radiant splendor in wood is a rare occurrence. Normally we protect our fine wood from the outside elements; but that shields us from their fullest potential for beauty.

While gazing up towards those naked pews that day, a disturbing feeling of exposure arose within me. Those pews emanated to me a sense of utter helplessness and vulnerability with no way to hide from the ravages of the elements. To be sure, we humans expend much of our lives avoiding such transparent exposure. We resist becoming uncovered and naked - vulnerable to elements over which we have no power.

Seeing the broken-up church building reminded me that so little of the true Light of God can shine through us, his people, when we are hidden behind our self-constructed walls. I don't mean merely our edifices. We have a natural tendency to construct all kinds of exteriors - so that others can't see us in our weaknesses, fears, and our emptiness. We don't want to be exposed in our vulnerability and our smallness. Really, we are merely hiding from ourselves and from God - just like Adam and Eve who, after they turned their backs on God, instinctively grabbed fig leaves as they dashed for cover.

The outside world cannot see what goes on inside our church buildings - unless, that is, the roof blows off….. somehow. And that's just the way God works in the lives of his people. It may feel like a tornado touching down and leaving us feeling frightfully exposed to the elements. Perhaps we experience failure, rejection, or in some way the unmasking of our facades. Our flaws are painfully exposed. We feel anxiety and fear, because now there is nowhere to hide. Yet in this exposed and vulnerable condition, we find God's invitation to receive his Light - his merciful love through Christ. It is his better cover for us - a cover that is transparent and flexible.

That day, as I looked at the damaged church, another marvel caught my attention: Some of the stain glass windows were still intact and I could see sunlight shine through them. We don't normally see stain glass windows like that - not from the outside. Even at nighttime, any light shining through them is merely artificial light - never the sun's full splendor. But that day, oh, how brightly they shone! And with such vibrant colors!

PRAYER: Lord, in the trials and testings of our lives may we have courage to be exposed in truthfulness before you. May we become wholeheartedly receptive to you, so that the Light of your love can radiate in the rubble of our brokenness, just like those pews and windows radiated with the sun's radiance.

Diane Eaton d.eaton@bmts.com
Kincardine, Ontario, Canada

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