For three years, I’ve been doggedly searching for someone to replace the cement slab and sidewalk in front of our house. It had cracked right down the middle – an ugly scar made worse by my attempts to caulk it. But finding someone willing to do the work proved surprisingly hard. Getting someone who agreed to the project to follow through, even harder.
But at last, it’s under way.
The first step is complete upheaval. Looking at this mess from a window above, it reminds me of a favorite quote of Mark Twain: “Custom is petrification; nothing but dynamite can dislodge it for a century.” He’s referring to our traditions, habits, and long-held beliefs. To be changed, they can’t be pried loose. They must be blown up.
Jesus knew that. He uses a milder visual (except for the burst of blood-red wine), but the meaning is the same:
And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins. Mark 2:22, ESV
When I sit down and look at the Gospels, I’m surprised at how many attitudes and customs Jesus had to jackhammer. Here are just a few. Rules against doing good on the Sabbath. Expectations of how the Messiah would act. The commercializing of the temple. The exclusion of “outsiders.” The shunning of “sinners.” What good means. What a neighbor means.
Some of these he broke up with logic. Some with strong words. One required flipping tables.
It’s a simple but harsh truth: change requires disruption. I hear it all the time in corporate sessions. The habits and attitudes that get one into the broken present can’t co-exist with the ones that are going to fix it. Like my cement, you can’t have your crack and treat it, too.
We don’t like change because we don’t like being disrupted. We’d love to have the beautiful, new state. We just don’t want to give up the comfort of the old “custom.” Even if that custom is the very thing that keeps us from the good we wish we had.
I think about this topic often. I’m fascinated by the sibling likeness of creativity and spiritual growth. And how God uses upheaval in both. But that doesn’t mean it’s any easier for me when I’m staring change in the face.
But I know I want a new outpouring of God’s presence and power in my life.
And it means he might have to break a few things first.
Jesus, we want you to keep changing us. Forgive us for the customs that we let become as hard and intractable as cement. Break them apart so you can build our lives the way you want.
Reader: When have you seen disruption bring something good into your life?