Wednesday, June 14, 2017

It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World?

So we've been building a hayshed. It's an incredible amount of physical work, and many times we've looked at each other and said, "This is why people pay other people to do this."

But there's also something satisfying in building it yourself. And as my brother observes, it's a lot harder to carp about how it's not done right if it's you that did the work.

So all those graves -- we set tall poles in each one. And the posts stood all crooked and askew, pointing at the sky at weird angles. I thought of a very old movie where a dying man told some people about a treasure buried under "the big W" -- and they spent the rest of the movie looking for it. So as I looked at the poles, all cattywompus and crazy, I thought of moving a few of them to make them look like a big W. And that seemed, especially in that sweaty, catch your breath moment, like a lot of work. Unnecessary work. But here's a picture so you can get the idea:

All those posts stood crooked in their too-big holes like the world gone crazy. I stood there looking at them, imagining the ancient builders of Stonehenge getting their big rocks crooked and wondering what to do about it. The world's gone mad, they might have thought.

And here we had the modern rural version. Let's call it "hayhenge." Or not.

So we used a level and a string and a shovel and lots of dirt and we straightened those posts. Brought them into right relationship with the earth and with each other and with the compass points, all there in their individual graves. In biblical terms it's called "justification" -- bringing something into right relationship with the important things surrounding it.

 And the beat goes on. Not only were those posts justified, one to each other and to the earth and to the farmer's preferences, they began to serve a greater purpose. They became pillars, not just posts, that held the trusses that one day soon will hold a roof. So what seemed chaotic and crazy -- mad, in fact -- was justified.

It's what the Bible talks about when Paul in the book of Romans describes our lives being justified. We are a bit mad, all on our own, like the character in Alice in Wonderland says: "I'm mad, you're mad, we're all mad here."

And we all need to be justified, to be brought into right relationship with what's around us, with the important things, with God and his purposes for his good creation. If we let him justify us, and if we can begin to grasp what he's up to in that work (his work, not our work) we begin to serve a larger purpose. We begin to become useful to his ends and his directions, bearing a weight and serving a purpose and holding an identity we didn't have before.

So it's a mad world. And in the midst of it is a God who is at work with some crazy idea that he can rearrange it, make it good for his purposes.

It's a hopeful thought, at any rate.

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