After a 9 days of being Neutropenic and essentially on House Arrest, I think it might be official: “my cheese has slipped off my cracker.” I have decided to confess something to the masses that has been reserved only for “safe people” in the past. This may change what you think of me and you may even feel the need to de-friend me from FB and ignore all future Blogs, so be prepared….ready? (Deep breath…) I.love.neil.diamond.
There. It’s out there. And while we are on the topic, I might as well tell you that I also love Kenny Rogers and John Denver. I am guessing that about now you are either shaking your head and thinking, “…and she seemed so hip” OR you want to call me up right now and have 70’s sing-a-long! You may even want to come out of the closet with me, after keeping your own love for these men a secret for all those years. A few years ago I even went to a Kenny Rogers concert ( he SOUNDED like Kenny Rogers anyway-had a few too many face-lifts I think). I went with a friend ( who shall remain nameless lest she incur judgment) and we were, by FAR, the youngest ones there. Lots of silver hair and tour buses. We may have been the only ones who drove there ourselves. At one point, and I am not embellishing this, someone raised there clear, fiberglass CANE in the air as we cheered and sang “You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille” with Kenny. About a year later, Blake bought me surprise tickets to go with this same friend (she had been tested and found, um, nerdy like me) to see a Neil Diamond Tribute at a local comedy club (yes, a comedy club. No comment, please). He looked and sounded just like Neil! We were even moved to tears a few times. Even if you are NOT a fan of these fellows, don’t tell me that you couldn’t at least hum me a few bars of “Sweet Caroline”, “Rocky Mountain High”, or “The Gambler” (you gotta know when to hold em’…).
Now that I have that off my chest, I will move on to a less debatable “Old Timer”, Amy Grant. You have probably heard her music, but I have been listening to her since about 6th grade, when she sang with just a guitar and wrote many of her songs herself ( yes, i have been nerdy a long time…). In fact, one last confession; I JUST figured out how to use an I tunes card while i was in the hospital and what album did I download? Amy Grant’s FIRST album ever (“Beautiful Music”, for those of you who care). My cassette tape is obsolete. I still know all the songs by heart because I used to listen to them as I fell asleep at night. So, my long intro will now segue into my real purpose in writing any of this down. One particular song, called “Old Man’s Rubble” is one I have known by heart since I was 12. I think you might agree that how we interpret a song at 12 may be vastly different from how one might interpret it at 44. I have a wee bit of added life experience to clarify that lens, I’d say. When I was 12, though I sang the chorus to that song with passion and volume and confidence, I had no concept of what “old man’s rubble” meant until I listened to it as an adult. Here are the lyrics:
“Are you living in an old man’s rubble? Are you listening to the father of lies? If you are then you’re headed for trouble. If you listen to long you’ll eventually die.”
I like this definition of “rubble”: bits and pieces of anything; as that which has been demolished.
When we give our will and our lives over to the care of God, completely, our “old man/human” has been demolished. Blown to smithereens. We get to start over with a new nature. Isaiah 61:4 says we will “REBUILD the ancient ruins and RESTORE the places long devastated; RENEW the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.” But for some reason, it can be a struggle to live as a new, restored “man” and much more natural and comfortable (even if it’s “bad”) to live in the “rubble” left over from the demolition. It can be tempting to spend our time and money “preserving” the ancient ruins instead of “rebuilding” them. Beth Moore says it well: “rather than inspect the ancient ruin and then work with God to rebuild, we just keep revisiting and preserving and we never get over it. Without God, our only sure Restorer, that’s about the best we can do.”
I have spent a lot of years trying to patch up and preserve the ancient ruins. I have been living in the “old man’s rubble.” I have missed the point of grace; that God gave me what I didn’t deserve (grace) in exchange for all my rubble. A wise friend of mine talks about how she has worked very hard to knock down her stoney “walls”, but she always keeps the bricks neatly stacked nearby, just in case she needs to build them back up again. When we live in the rubble, the bits and pieces of our brokenness and sin and guilt and shame, we are listening to the wrong voice; The father of lies (lies like: you will never be enough or you should grovel and crawl before God and man to “pay” for your mistakes).
The end of the song sums it all up: “But if you’re living as a NEW CREATION, if you’re listening to the Father of Light, then you’re living as a mighty fortress and you’re gonna be clothed in POWER AND MIGHT.”
So, it’s time stop living in the rubble of your “old man”. The pile will always be growing because we are jars of clay that get broken and chipped regularly. But as another wise friend of mine likes to remind me, “we don’t have to live that way anymore.” It’s time to “stop preserving and start rebuilding” (Beth Moore).