God bless the man who stumbles
God bless the man who falls
God bless the man who yields to temptation
God bless the woman who suffers
God bless the woman who weeps
God bless the children trying her patience
God bless the house divided
God bless the weeds in the wheat
God bless the lamp lit under a bushel
God bless the man at the crossroads
God bless the woman who still can´t sleep
God bless the history that doesn´t repeat.
[lyrics from Bless This Mess by David Bazan]
Which line stands out to you? Which one of these lines can you relate to? As I have been living and growing the past few years since hearing this song for the first time (while on tour with some of my dearest friends) I have found that I have been touched by each line in one way or another. I think if we are honest, we all have.
The song that these lines come from is very simple. It has a somber yet driving melody from a man who has lead a very turbulent life. From being a leader in the church, front man of a Christian band, and all together navigating the mess we have made as Christians of art, and the beauty of expressing ourselves through our creation. David Bazan has since left the church, and removed any affiliation to the Christian music industry as it were, to become an atheist, or as I would like to call a nomad. I don’t know if he will always claim atheism, or whether it’s just him wanting to not be apart of the American Christianity that is being spewed out by politicians and televangelists on every television channel and talk radio station at almost anytime of day.
Now, I don’t know if I will meet him [Bazan] in heaven or not. In fact we won’t know if anyone of our loved ones will be in heaven. We want them to be. We want them to be in church and follow Christ, and we want them to walk the walk, but sometimes their faith might not look like our own. And that’s a hard pill to swallow. Mahatma Ghandi once said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ”. Ouch, that hurt. Did Ghandi just say that? Oh yes he did! and I see what he means.
As a whole, the Church is ultimately failing to be like Christ, the one thing we are called to do as the Church. So, although we can judge and compare and contrast all we want, but when it comes down to it Micah 6:8 is where we need be. Act Justly, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with your God. And, not worry about keeping up with the Jones’ or the Jones’ Church.
The line “God bless the house divided.” That is the line I’m speaking about here. There are many divided houses in my church congregation. Those who have had faith, never had faith, recently lost faith, or somewhere in between. My house is no exception. Family dynamics change, people change, and sometimes it’s not that we change, but it’s that the truth has been revealed for the first time. Whichever change has divided your house; it gets hard, as a husband, as a wife. Church gets hard when you sit in the pew by yourself. It’s not the same anymore. You have been living your whole adult life sharing your faith with your spouse, and then one day you realize you just can’t keep sitting in that same lonely pew each and every Sunday.
Church is the place we can go for refuge, for strength, for encouragement. Is it a place we can go with our stuff? Can we really show up weary and heavyhearted? How long can a human continue to live under the stress and suffering of “losing” their mate in the spiritual battle for their heart, mind and soul?
A few years back, my father took himself out of the running for being the next interviewee of the “in the pew next to you” (an article written in our Church’s newsletter each month), by officially renouncing his Church membership. His whole adult life he followed Christ as best as he knew how. He taught children the love of Christ, he taught men the wisdom and power of such a loving God, and most of all he taught us how to be beautiful in an ugly world.
30 years ago he started building his house on the rock with his big carpenter hands. And not too many years later I was doing the same. We were neighbors on this rock, and I learned how to be a man of faith from watching him. When he moved out and abandoned his house, it was hard for the rest of us, and still is extremely difficult to understand and cope with. Now my neighbor’s house is vacant, and no one is there to take care of it but my mother and me. We are frequently over there doing yard work and sprucing up the weathered front porch built with the finest of wood from around the world. Hoping that one-day he will return to his house on the rock.
I know I can’t bring him back, I know that there isn’t anything I could say to make it all better. Back to the way it was when I was younger.
At the very least, if he decides to come back to his house, it will be ready for him.
So I ask one question. Who’s house are you watching while they are away?