I bend to pick up half the brick in my floor and fine orange dust covers my hand. I fetch the other half from my front sidewalk walking through the broken window as I go, a testament to how an object this small can give way to such damage. I hold the halves one in each in hand and feel their weight pulling me down with the gravity of their mass and what they represent. I don't spend much time bemoaning the chaos that their arrival has brought, their presence brings more work than I want and I have learned that tears and complaining do not much work for you when there is much work to be done.
As I count the narcotic inventory for my mandatory DEA robbery loss report I see the sun rise over my pharmacy counter, bright & brilliant. Orange ray’s streak through the gaping hole without the filter of my glass where five minutes ago only deep blackness existed and I stop to think about the hands that held that brick before me. They must have been strong to hurl that composite mass of concrete through double-paned tempered glass. Strong enough to do a lot of other things besides steal and destroy, strong enough to do great things, important things. So what brought them here to me on a Thursday morning before daybreak? What story do those hands have to tell? Why is this way their chosen way?
I scrape the oxycodone tablets across my ancient plastic teal counting tray still thinking about bricks, how they are made, what they are used for. I think about the bricks Gods people made, the ones that built great cities for Pharaoh out of dust rising, an empire on earth for a man who believed he was a god. I remember Peter & when Jesus declared him a rock upon which the church is built. And I remember Jesus the cornerstone of it all. The starting and ending of who I am.
Bricks weren't made for destruction they were made to create dwelling places.
But how many times have hands held bricks for the purpose of hurting? How many bodies have been crushed by them with the brutality of our human nature? How many times has Satan taken the gift of construction to bring about chaos, decimation, and death? How many times have our words become the bricks building the walls of resentment and hate that separate us from each other? How many times have I been the brick in the hands of the deceiver, unwilling to see my sin, unwilling to admit my pride, unwilling to submit to the King?
I stop counting, reach down, and pick the bricks up again marveling at how adept Satan is at taking good things and twisting them into tools of deceit and destruction. I look at the pieces within my hands, mortar still clinging to them from their last build, and I am reminded that I get to choose how I feel about the hands that threw them.
Am I going to sit back & pass judgement on the men who took what was rightfully mine? Am I going to stay planted in my anger and grow into a poisonous vine of contempt whose only fruit is bitterness? Or am I going to remember that the same God who knitted me together in my mother’s womb knitted them with the same care, with the same love? Will I submit to my Father’s will of forgiveness even if it means I have to pry my stubborn hands open finger by finger to keep them open for the Spirit? I get to decide if I'm going to stay angry and bitter or if I'm going to keep being built, brick by brick, into a dwelling place for Jesus.
I stand planted in that moment of indecision running my fingers over the rough surface of those abused brick pieces as my pride fights my spirit in the never ending struggle between me or Him.
my way or His way
death versus life
destruction or dwelling place
Today I chose Him over me. Today in this moment I ignored my nature and clung to his. And sometimes that is enough for me to keep learning the lesson he is teaching.
When we are the objects of this world’s anger help us to remember you. In every single moment may we learn to forgive as you forgave. May we love as you loved. Bind up our wounded hearts and teach us that our ways are not your ways. And when our pride prevents us from these things, break it. Break it into pieces that can never be put back together again. Do whatever it takes to keep us at the foot of the cross.