Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Parable of the Brick Wall

Imagine a brick wall.

What you are imagining is not nearly big enough. Imagine yourself standing in front of a massive brick wall. Now, look to the right. The brick wall continues as far as you can see. Now look to the left. It has no end. Look up. As far as you can see - past the clouds and into outer space. The brick wall never ends.

Now imagine that this brick wall is real. And that it exists in the future. This is the wall that separates the past and the present from the future. Behind the wall exists Heaven. Heaven is a good place and you'd like to be there. What little we know of Heaven is mysterious, but we know that it is a good place - no death, no mourning, no crying, no pain. God reigns in Heaven with a loving rule. Heaven has the power to heal.

Now imagine a homeless man standing in front of the brick wall. He is in his early thirties. He eyes the wall with a crazed look. He clinches his right hand into a fist. The muscles in his forearm tighten. His triceps and biceps bulge. With one massive swing he punches the wall with his bare fist. The wall is unharmed. It's a brick wall. The man's knuckles turn red as he makes his fist again. He punches the wall harder. Blood spurts in all directions. Several bones in his hand shatter. His eyes glaze over like a soldier in a firefight. He wails on that wall. Swing after swing. Punch after punch. Eventually every bone in his right hand is broken. It is mangled - a bloody useless stump. He takes a breath. He thinks. Then he makes a fist with his left hand and begins to punch the wall over and over until that hand too is shredded and useless.

Remember, this man stands in the future. But word of his insanity reaches the present and the past. Someone is trying to release Heaven. This news threatens the powerful - the tyrants and despots, the violence peddlers, the religious con artists, the greedy self-centered tycoons. From the past and the present, these violent men rush into the future all the way to that brick wall. When they see the man, they attack him with sticks and metal rods and rocks. The man takes their blows with an unshakable gaze targeted directly on that wall. When he gets a foot free from their grasp, he kicks the wall breaking his toes. He knees the wall, shattering his kneecap. As the evil men beat him down, he manages one last open handed slap on the wall before he collapses...and then he dies.

Arrogant and proud, the evil and powerful men from the past and present turn around and stroll back to their time and place, leaving the man’s lifeless body to decay.

And then the most remarkable thing happens. One brick, about five feet from the ground starts to shake. The mortar around the brick cracks. The brick shimmies. The magic of Heaven pushes the loosened brick forward until it falls squarely on the back of the dead man.

And then all of history holds her breath as Heaven begins to leak. Just tiny droplets at first. Heaven trickles out of that hole in the wall and lands on the mangled, lifeless hands of the homeless man. When Heaven touches his hands they are instantly healed. Heaven drips on his feet, his knees. And eventually, Heaven splashes on his heart. The man's life returns. He stands to see the hole in Heaven's wall. He sees Heaven beginning to flow out of the future toward the present. He smirks and turns on his heels and sprints from the future, through our present and into our past. He sprints back to first century Palestine and pokes his head into human history. Breathless and battle-tested, he speaks one message to anyone who will listen. "Heaven is coming!" He didn't say, "You can go to heaven," but "Heaven is coming to you." He cried out, "Get ready. Turn toward the future and away form the past and present. Align yourself because Heaven is coming!" Even as he said these words, Heaven was beginning to flow into the past from the future. "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!" It's all he could think to say to us…it was the whole reason he came.


Micah said...

To the man uncomfortable with affirmation, I say:

Good work, Joe.

The Zone of Zakness said...

Wow. I felt like I was there. Very Good Stuff.

yul meade said...

Brother Joe, the reason i sent you the google keynote speech notice is because i would love for some of your metaphors to be turned into animations that i could download to my ipod [i think your spirit would lend itself well to a movie company ]i would show the movies to seekers of Abba's Boy; The Beneficent One.

Your lesson on "The Our Father" is liberating and affirming for me. Be Bold, Be Blessed Joe; you and your House.

Bethany said...

I'm glad you put this up here. Thanks, Joe!