Daily Proverbial, from Ecclesiastes, 14 June 2012

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak. Ecclesiastes 3, verses 1, 7.

Yesterday a big hail storm moved through East Dallas. My daughter and I were driving home from an appointment in Corsicana, which is south of the city, and we skirted by the dark clouds just as they were beginning to gather. Today’s morning news stories showed that baseball-sized hail did some serious damage to the cars, homes and businesses in that area. Please pray for all those affected.

But not just for them, you know. The other day I saw footage of my old home in Colorado Springs, where a massive hail storm caused similar havoc. If you live in that area, you get used to the idea that once a year or so, someplace in the Pike’s Peak region will get slammed with a foot of hail. It has to do with how weather patterns collide along the Front Range. A friend sent me a picture of a car that was surrounded by so much hail that the rain falling had no place to run off, so it flooded the car in an otherwise empty parking lot. I feel bad for the owner because their property got torn up for no better reason than they unknowingly parked in the wrong place.

It’s summer in the American west: expect things like this. Expect them because this is one of nature’s times to tear things up. If we want to explore the ecclesiastically true reason, we can attribute it back to the consequences of Eden. That’s a bit deeper than I want to dive this morning. Even as it’s true, I’ll be content to know that things like freak hailstorms happen when they do. Weather patterns, internal updrafts, and the laws of heating, cooling and condensation all play into the fact that, when the hail gets heavy enough to outweigh the wind velocity, it simply falls where it does.

For those affected, now is the time to mend. I hear roofers and auto insurance adjusters are busy today in the Lakewood part of the Metroplex.

For everything there is a time to tear and a time to mend. Just a few minutes ago, I had to mend a pair of shorts. Recently, I was heavier than I am today (I’ve lost most of 10 pounds in the last few weeks). My ample gut popped a button on a pair of shorts that I can now wear again thanks to the weight loss. To make that wearing possible, I had to sew on a new button. It’s a time to mend.

And then there is the typical evening television show here at Chez Terry. Part of my wife’s nightly ‘download’ routine is to watch shows on HGTV about renovation. She gets ideas on things we can do to our property, but it’s also entertaining to watch them take something old and broken and transform it into something useful and attractive. You can’t renovate a room without some demolition; out with the broken old and in with the usable new. The end result is that the property is restored, often into a better than its original condition.

Finally, there is my son’s car. It’s a junker of sorts, but it’s the best we could afford at the moment. There is a radiator leak we can’t quite pin down, he needs new posts on the dashboard switches that control the heater and blower, and there are typical old-car problems. You can’t fix a broken car engine without removing some other parts. For his car, it will mean taking off the dashboard, getting under the hood to yank out a few broken hoses and such, and replacing parts that have simply worn out. The return he will get for this is an old car that has been made usable again. It will have more life to offer.

How true is verse 7, then! There truly are times to tear and mend, and isn’t that also what God does with you and me? We’re broken, often seemingly beyond repair. If you and I were machines, we might just have been ready for the junkyard. I won’t speak for you, but I know I have some pretty heinous junk in my past, and I also know that I haven’t always taken good care of the body with which He entrusted me. I’ve junked up my mind and my heart with a bunch of stuff that is worthless; I’ve junked up my body with unhealthy living like alcohol, bad food, laziness and smoke. I’m like the hailed up roof all torn up and trashed; I’m like the flooded car in the parking lot, sometimes made that way by choices that aren’t always in my control. God doesn’t let me just sit around broken, though. He continually offers me ways to mend. He’s like a mechanic who renovates old machines, or a doctor who binds up torn wounds. He doesn’t let my crap from the past make me into anyone He doesn’t want me to be tomorrow. Forgiveness is an amazing thing because it is the start of fixing everything.

And in a contrasting thing that’s especially difficult for me, sometimes silence is louder than words. I wonder why this particular contrast. If you read it, the words are poetic but out of place. What do silence and speech have to do with tearing and mending? Only everything. They apply if you think back that God works on us through His word. He teaches us about Himself through the lessons recorded in Scripture, then He uses those lessons to teach us how to believe, how to act, even what to say in our post-modern, post-faith world (where we’re told we don’t need God anymore). Best of all, I find that he teaches most when we’re silent. One of the favorite Bible verses my wife and I have taken to telling each other is “be still and know that I am God.” That’s Psalm 46, verse 10. His words speak clearest to my tangled heart when I am simply silent, listening and absorbing.

Yeah, that’s especially hard for a talkative cuss like me. It’s great, Godly advice though with more practical applications than even a verbose and sometimes bored Texan can describe.

So in the middle of repairing hail damage – while preparing for the next round of storms – it’s a prayer I’ll lift up for all those affected. There’s the temptation to ‘do something’ involved with any crisis like this. I know that would be my first reaction if my roof was torn up. Still, the better course is to receive comfort by knowing that things like this happen at times and that, when they do, there is the opportunity to be silent and then speak as we’re empowered. For that, every moment is the right time.

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