Saturday, August 06, 2011

There is a crack in everything…

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
Leonard Cohen, Anthem

We are fallen things in a fallen world. This place is broken. It was broken a very long time ago, and it has been falling to bits ever since. We cannot stand aside from this brokenness. Schadenfreude is prohibited. We are in this, all of us, up to our necks. You can read the first few chapters of Genesis how you like – it makes no difference to me whether you take it as literal, metaphorical or merely allegorical – it comes to the same thing in the end. Jesus knew this very well. He spoke of it often, most tellingly perhaps in the parable of the weeds (Matthew 13.24-30):
He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?” He answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’
He knew that it was painful and despair-inducing to live like this, and he knew we would always try to find ways to mend things, to pull up weeds. He knew too that it would be impossible to get it right – trying to pull up the bad stuff we’d injure and destroy the good. We can see this principle at work every day in Afghanistan, in Syria, Somalia… We can’t help it, perhaps, we have to try and fix it; we can’t bear to watch and do nothing. Paul saw this too:
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Romans 8.18-25

We can’t know how to pray. But, Paul goes on to remind us (vv.26-27):
…the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
We need to learn to stay still, to wait on the Harvester at the end of things. Till then, all I can do is pray as I have been shown, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner…”


  1. Yes, there is a crack in everything, Mike. And as the song say, cracked things and people let the light shine through.
    Isn't this all that counts really, to let the light through, a light which is not are own?
    Beautiful post. Thank you.

  2. I agree it is the cracks that allow us to admit to our imperfection allowing God to come into our lives. I remember times in my past where I took the responsibility for holding the cracks together and it wasn't just me that suffered. If only we could all give our brokeness to God letting him gather us in. Perhaps 'brokeness' also means the inability to let go and let God and that those people who allow God to lead are not actually broken any more - One of those paradox thoughts I suppose.