My favorite little hardware store has been knocked down.
Over the years that I have lived in BangNa, it has been the perfect place to go to when I've needed tape or a paint brush or a hammer and a nail.
The owners are also my landlords and friends. They enjoyed watching my children grow up and now I am enjoying watching their little grandson as he grows. Even though I am thankful for my friends as they upgrade and add some rental apartments, I feel a little nostalgic. We know that the unique "feel" of the little old unair-conditioned hardware store on market street will never be felt again.
It has been knocked down and totally destroyed.
The old is gone.
When things are destroyed, there is usually pain and loss to go along with it. We don't like it when the familiar is ripped away.
As I watch the process across the street, I can't help but be reminded of the times that God has allowed my dreams, attitudes, ideals and expectations to be knocked down. It has not been fun or easy. When I have built something in my mind and have an idea of how life is supposed to be, I don't like it when the walls come tumbling down. Tearing down is painful and hard. I like stability and security. When the supports are ripped away and everything falls, I often can't see how anything good will come from the chaos.
But the new can't start until the old is gone.
So often God must remove our old ways of doing things, our old assumptions, and our old belief systems so that He can show us things that are deeper and more beautiful than we could have imagined.
So often He is bringing about good even when our lives feel like they are being destroyed.
So often He allows our idols to be pried out of our hands so that we can see that He is all we need.
So often He allows us to see that an old formula we believed isn't what we needed at all, instead what we need is to keep in step with His Spirit.
As I work with teens, I'm often faced with seeing teens with incorrect theology that is blocking their relationship with God.
The new way of thinking can't come until they recognize the old way of thinking.
They may see God only as a disapproving rule-maker just watching to see when they make a mistake. This wrong thinking needs to be torn down in order to make way for the truth to be built--the truth of the Loving Father who is waiting and watching for them to come into a real relationship with Him.
Some believe that if they obey all the rules and do everything that is right, that God will give them a healthy, wealthy and happy life. They don't know that the greatest joy is knowing God even when you lose your wealth or health or circumstantial happiness. Their small picture is based on what they want and it has to be deconstructed so that they can see that God has a bigger picture. A picture that is not based on the fleeting happiness of our life on earth but on the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus.
Some live under the burden of trying to please God by being perfect. But it is much too big of a burden to bear. This incorrect thinking needs to tumble to the ground in order for them to be able to see the amazing grace that is waiting to spring up. The grace that brings freedom.
Some teens think that God is unfair and His boundaries don't make any sense. They interpret God's words based on what they have experienced and their conclusion is that He is not compassionate or kind. This old building blocks a new spacious building from being built--a building of love and compassion and comfort and grace.
Sometimes I talk to teens who feel that because God is love they don't need to worry about anything they do-because they will be forgiven anyway, right? But this belief takes away from the incredible price Jesus paid for our sin. It diminishes the grace and beauty of sacrificial love. This belief system needs to fall down in order to give way for an understanding of our sin and God's great love-the good news that can give purpose and joy to our lives!
As I look over my balcony and watch the beginning of a new building, I wonder what it will look like. I wonder how different it will be from the old. I wonder if the new hardware store will be spacious and air-conditioned and welcoming.
As I watch, I pray for all of us who may have some walls that need tearing down. I pray for courage to face pain as we allow our beliefs, attitudes or idols to be dismantled. I pray that we will allow God to build some new and spacious and beautiful things in us.
I pray we can say good-bye to the old. And, that we can welcome the new!