Under the Rubble

So I’m reading one of the best books I’ve ever read (atleast on the top 10), because it makes me stop often and process what he’s saying. The book is Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb. Never read his stuff before, but I’m finding I really like his processing and writing style.

In light of my last post, I was frozen in utter surprise when my eyes slowly went across these words:

“Beneath every heartache, beneath every failure, beneath every shattered dream, a divine Presence is waiting to be discovered. Why then do so few find Him? Because He is hidden. Like a city after an earthquake, God’s presence is hidden beneath the rubble of the Fall. Look inside. An honest look will first reveal the rubble of our efforts to make life work without God, of our terror that keeps us from naked vulnerability to anyone, of our construction project that has created a false self that we hope will stay together through life. This is the rubble of dust and stone that hides the Presence. We live in sheer dread of giving up control and abandoning ourselves to God. Only when we discover a desire for Him that is stronger than our desire for relief from pain will we pay the prices necessary to find Him… there is no way to God but through the rubble. We must go through, not around, whatever keeps us from Him. The process is what spiritual people call brokenness and repentance.”

“…if I could see His face, if I could see passionate love coming out of His eyes, perhaps I could rest in the middle of shattered dreams.”

“Solid ground beneath the pain of shattered dreams is the revelation of a mystery; it is the realization that it’s more difficult for Christ to restrain Himself from making all our dreams come true than for us to watch them shatter. At our moment of worst pain, Jesus’ pain is worse… Jesus’ restraint is a greater mystery than your suffering.”

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Secret Treasure

Once upon a time there was a girl. Just a normal girl. And there was a father… An extraordinary father. He passed the way of the spirits into eternity. It felt like her whole world was falling apart. Well, it was. You see, she had inherited a valuable plot of land in the most beautiful garden in the world. Her father owned the most valuable plot of all the land. In fact, he never told her the details of his great wealth and all the treasures he kept hidden in secret places… Treasure that he wanted to give her someday. He wanted his daughter to enjoy the fruits of his labor. She did, however, know about the large sum of money he left for her that would be more than enough for the rest of her life. He also wanted to entrust the secrets of hidden treasure to her. He wanted to give her the best he possibly could, the most lasting and valuable gifts a father could give a daughter. There really was no better father to belong to. Her father had always told her that everything she needed was hidden in secret places, right there in the land. He said she could have it all, just because she was his daughter.

The only condition to receiving it was that she had to seek it with all her heart in order to find it… because, you see, it was hidden. She knew she could do it. She knew she just had to remain on the land and built her life there…. She would eventually find the secret treasure. Every morning she woke up to the divine sketch of sunrise above. She searched so intently. Every morning. She dug innumerable holes and ditches, which was the most exhausting work ever. But it didn’t take long for the search to feel like playing hide and seek with an invisible person. So she began to do what is natural for anyone who can’t find what they’re looking for and wanting the most… Produce. Just do something. Atleast she could feel like she was worth something if she had something to show for it… Since the dream of ever finding the hidden treasure wasn’t working out.

What seemed like a lifetime passed by. she had spent her entire life building her dream home there in the garden. She worked and toiled day and night for the fulfillment of this desire. It didn’t matter how anyone discouraged or tried to distract her. She paid no attention… and built onward and upward. She knew what she wanted it to look like, so she toiled to that end. Oh, it was beautifully magnificent. Everyone who walked by her glorious mansion saw how neat and orderly it looked. It seemed like she had it all together. She had everything… and everything in its perfect place. She felt so in control of her life. Nothing was crooked. No chipped paint on the outside. Perfect symmetry. Astounding color combos. She planted the most beautiful gardens of rare, delicate flowers and exotic fruits. People came from all over to get a glimpse at her remade garden of Eden… Or, what looked like it, atleast.

But she got lost in all this beauty, accomplishment, and extraordinary life of hers. It distracted her… Well, she wanted it to distract her because she became so weary of the hide and seek game long ago. She eventually forgot what her father had told her. She forgot the one thing that mattered most… Finding and taking hold of all He already provided for her in untold wealth. So instead, she settled down on the land and made her life as beautiful as she could. She was so enthralled with what she had created on this valuable land that she never even thought about the hidden secret that she inherited… Hidden somewhere underneath her feet or in a bush.

Years passed by until the dreadful day. She didn’t even see it coming. No one did, really. She had heard of these fierce twisters in the land before, but that was ages ago before her time. She had never seen one and it never occurred to her that she ever would. It was just a fable to her, really. But in a second, it became her reality. As soon as she saw the whirling cloud of darkness charging toward her, she ran to the cliffs where she used to play as a little girl. She would go and hide there… It was a place no one else knew about. Her father had shown it to her when she was very little. He told her it was a special place because she could go there anytime and God would be there, no matter what. She remembered something about an ancient sacrifice and divine blessing the people received in return.

She hadn’t been there in so long. But as soon as she saw the twister descending, it was the only place she knew to run. She ran with all her might. She wedged herself in the cleft of the rock. She knew she would be safe there. She remained there, eyes fixed upon the impending destruction of all she had poured her life into. In less than a minute, it whirled and swirled fiercely toward her home. Wrecked. All wrecked. She watched in grief as all of her things went soaring with force through the air. It all came crashing down… Everything she had spent her time, money, and heart to built. And as quickly as the twister rushed in with complete destruction… It rushed out with a smile as if it had accomplished the purpose for which it was sent.

Utter loss and grief. She wept like she never had before… In fact, she didn’t even know weeping could gnaw and wrench your insides so violently. Had someone heard her, they would have thought she was being violently tortured and murdered. She wanted to die. She had nothing left but broken, torn, ragged parts and pieces. She sat there in the cleft. She didn’t want to leave. All was quiet. She was reminded of the time she spent there as a little girl… How she dreamed of the treasure her father had hidden just for her… How she spent hours and days just imagining what it could possibly be. She had always looked for it…. But after so many years, she got weary of the search. She lost faith in her father. Perhaps he was tricking her. But then, why would he? Nothing seemed to make sense anymore.

She crawled out of the cleft and murmured under her breath to the spirit of her father, “There was no treasure, was there? You just wanted me to have hope that there was, didn’t you?” She dragged her feet over to the plot of land, where her masterpiece home once stood proudly. She walked among the rubble, alone, tears streaming down her face in despair. All hope was gone. In rage, she kicked the rubbled pieces under her feet high into the air. She watched her tears fall to the ground. She noticed that she was not standing on rubble or shattered pieces anymore. Just under her feet was solid white rock! She never knew rock was under her father’s house that she built her entire life. She thought it was quite odd… Of all the holes and ditches she dug since she was a little girl, looking for the treasure, she never found anything like this.

She wept because she had spent her entire life building something that was utterly destroyed in one fell swoop. The only thing that remained was the solid rock under her. It was now more quiet than it had ever been. Her heart was more stilled than it had ever been… Perhaps out of shock. She heard something. No one was around, just her. She listened more intently. It sounded like a faint heartbeat. Now she thought she was delusional. She looked around. No one. She looked up, nothing. She looked down. She bent down toward the rock, pressing her ear up against it. Sure enough, it sounded like a heartbeat underneath her. She placed both hands on the rock. At that very moment, she remembered her father’s words… “The treasure is hidden deep in a secret place” She then realized her failure… How she had lost hope of ever finding the secret. But somehow, the heartbeat retrieved the lost memory.

She wept there, on her knees, hands spread out on the white rock… The only thing that remained on the land, still in tact. She felt deep within her a desire rising for the secret. It’s all she wanted now. There was no other reason to live. She decided to search for it again… But this time, wholeheartedly. As soon as that decision was resolutely made, the rock beneath her opened up slowly… Like an earthquake… But quieter. Blinding and glorious light peeked out through the broken places as she stared into them. What happened next brought such restored life and joy that she never, in her wildest imaginations, would have thought her father meant by ‘a hidden treasure more valuable than anything else in the world’.

She never did reveal what the secret hidden treasure was. Because, you see, her father is the Father of all mankind and He has hidden it for each one of us. It’s already there… And every son and daughter who relentlessly searches for it… Well, He promises they will find it. I don’t claim to have taken hold of it, but I press on. And though I still find myself standing in the rubble, I will find it… Because I’ll never stop searching.

The sky is still blue.

I like blue skies. They remind me of the depth, beauty, and faithfulness of the Father. Wide open unknown without limit. I love watching gloriously winged creatures soar high into the vast blue of what we call ‘sky’.

I think of the little girl from Forrest Gump. It’s the only scene I remember from the movie. It has often found a resting place in the forefront of my mind. I remember the little girl running away from impending danger into the tall grasses of a nearby field. She found a hiding place, knelt down, looked up into the sky, and prayed with all the child-like trust and abandon she could muster, “Dear God, make me a bird, so I can fly far… far, far away from here.”

See the blackbird in the picture? I took this at one of the most glorious heights I’ve ever visited. I drove up to Pike’s Peak out in Colorado. I drove to the very top of the peak, which is elevated at 2.6 miles! Not many signs of life up there. In fact, the only sign of life that I saw (other than shrubbery) was a black bird. It happened to fly over and perch next to me as I sat pondering on the edge of a cliff. I wondered why he was up there… what could he possibly find to eat at the top of this peak? He probably wondered the same about me. But if I had wings, I think I would fly to the top too… just because I could.

Someday I want to have wings and a wide open unknown. That will be awesome.

But for now, I’m stuck with two feet and gravity.

And I don’t know what colors will paint the new sky of eternity where everything is set right again, but for now… the sky is still blue.