I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again. (from Isaiah 58, The Message)
Last week felt like a great collision. Some people, some cells, at least one clique, were just plain falling apart, going to ruin. At the same time some people were rising from the dead, some cells were overcoming all obstacles and getting ready to multiply, in the middle of things falling apart people were finding faith for the first time, and then there was the Men’s Retreat.
At the Men’s Retreat I was heartened to be an eye-witness to so many springs coming up in the middle of rubble. I told a couple of people that, apparently, we could put 90 Circle of Hope men on a desert island with no planning at all and good things would happen. It made me kind of dizzy to watch it. What happened in me was good too – God was doing some rebuilding with the rubble of my past, as well.
Like Isaiah’s promise of a glowing future to those who pay attention to the poor (and I include my own poverty in that), I saw a lot of full life being acquired in the emptiest of places all week – especially at the retreat. New, well-renovated, lavishly-irrigated life was colliding with some old, weak-boned, dried-up faith that was not withstanding the onslaught of unbelief and immorality.
It was so painful to see people go to ruin! — but, then, against all odds the community showed signs of becoming even more livable – in the same week! That brings such great joy.
I keep finding that it makes sense to hold on to the Lord’s promise: “I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places.”