Posted by: Philip Rushton | October 7, 2013

The Storm Before The Calm

I spent this past weekend tearing out a wall between our dining room and kitchen. About 30 minutes into the process I had a mild panic attack. The demolition had started and there was no turning back. I was simply an unskilled laborer at the mercy of my slightly overconfident, risk taking friend, who assured me that it was going to be OK! 1377565_10151933510059743_93926057_n

As we got further into the process we encountered some unexpected problems. We ran into a lot of old wiring that literally looked like a “can of worms.” I discovered that the wire to our stove was made of aluminum and could easily cause our house to burn down. We also were unable to avoid cracking a lot of brittle lath and plaster. Needless to say, I was starting to have some serious doubts about the whole endeavor.

Yet, by the end of the day the project started to come together. Once the deconstruction was complete, we were able to see what the end result is going to be like. As we have started putting things back together, the stress and anxiety of the process have proved to be worth it. We have a much more hospitable layout for hosting friends, and we have a safer house because of the updated wiring! Something better resulted from the risk we took.

I am more of a theologian than a carpenter. So, in the midst of fumbling with drill bits and struggling to use a skilsaw, I found myself reflecting on how this experience of deconstruction and reconstruction has a lot of parallels to the spiritual journey. I was reminded that sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. This dynamic plays itself on a lot of levels in the spiritual life. For example, before we can experience character growth we often have to face suffering. Before we can experience freedom from sin, our sin needs to be exposed and acknowledged. Before we can experience freedom from idolatry we have to have our idols exposed, and this often happens through facing loss. As Jesus says, before we can gain life, we have to lose it.

This can be a scary process for us. I remember going through a long season of deconstruction during my first year of college. Two weeks prior to school starting I was at the scene of a tragic hiking accident. A middle school girl, who was part of a youth camp I was working with, fell to her death 30 feet in front of me. I spent a lot of that year working through issues of anxiety, guilt, and post-traumatic stress. Then, as I began studies in contemporary philosophy and theology I came up against all kinds of ideas that challenged my narrow worldview. God was no longer fitting into the neat little evangelical box I had put him into. I now had to reconcile my beliefs with the reality of suffering and the probing questions of skeptics.

However, as I look back I realize that this season of deconstruction was necessary. I can say now that this was one of the most formative seasons in my spiritual journey. Through the process of deconstruction I was able to develop a deeper level of faith and a stronger empathy for others.

We often reference the proverbial saying that there is a “calm before the storm.” I think it often works the other way around. To arrive at peace we often have to journey through a storm. There is, then, a storm before the calm.

In the middle of this journey we need encouragement. It also helps to have guides who have experience navigating through the storms of life. My friend Jonathan’s non-anxious presence and confidence kept me going on Saturday. While this was my first time demolishing a wall, he had done this numerous times. He knew exactly what we were going to face and what the end result would be. We were also joined by a couple of other friends who had expertise in carpentry and electrical work. They were able to provide wisdom and direction for how we could navigate through the problems we were up against.

My hope is that these words might provide some encouragement to those of you who find yourself in a season of deconstruction right now. Know that there is great significance and purpose in these times of hardship. Some of God’s greatest kingdom work is done in seasons of struggle. Jesus reminds us of this reality in the Sermon on the Mount when he says, “blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” and “blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” Poverty of spirit is blessed because it puts us in a position where we can be built up in Christ. When the illusion of self-sufficiency is exposed we become open to the healing work of Jesus. In the midst of hardship, then, may we hold on to the hope that this is only the storm before the calm.

(At the end of day one things are starting to look a bit better!) 64203_10151934636719743_860810710_n

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Thanks for this Phil. Good thoughts for me to hear this morning. I’m glad your project progressed so efficiently.

    • Nice to hear from you Eric. We should grab a coffee sometime! Take care.

  2. Phil, this brings back a lot of memories and I realize that over the years that trials do make us stronger and closer to the Lord. I enjoy all your posts. Thank you so much and God bless you. Marian Griffith

  3. Pamela. Appreciated this posting from Phil, our new Associate Pastor. Thot provoking. Mom Date: Mon, 7 Oct 2013 22:57:57 +0000 To: oscarol2@msn.com


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: