Click below to listen to this post about a world that is cracking under pressure on the Candidly Kendra podcast:
My latest read is Flight 232 by Laurence Gonzales. This book tells the harrowing true story of a United Airlines flight in which the plane lost all hydraulic power mid-flight. The plane should have spiraled out of control and crashed in a fiery explosion. Instead, the ingenious pilots discovered that they could control the plane’s spiral by using alternating engine thrusts. As a result, many lives were saved in what was presumed to be a no-survivor situation.
Many of us are discovering that our true mettle isn’t revealed until we face adversity.
The Boeing DC-10 from the story of Flight 232 seemed to be a strong, capable airplane. The truth was revealed when a weak point in the metal cracked under the pressure of flight. A hole was broken open in the tail and the damage was irreversible. The plane was going down.
Similarly, the true mettle of the pilots of that DC-10 was on display that day. They were average pilots, one would assume, but when the plane broke apart under them their true strength and inventiveness were revealed.
Our world is under pressure. Twenty-twenty is testing us all.
Will we crack under the pressure?
Could that be the explanation for certain difficulties that so many of us are facing? Our society is showing its cracks. Our churches are showing their cracks. And heaven knows I’m cracking up.
My Cracks Under Pressure
I’m not surprised by the stress I’ve felt as the world changes around me. Of course it’s been difficult to adjust to stay-at-home orders, to cancelled vacation plans, to online schooling. That stress came through to my family as moodiness and distraction. I was short-tempered and took refuge in projects (such as this blog). The pressure of 2020’s difficulties revealed to me that I was more introverted than I realized, and that I depend on alone time to recharge.
It was time for me to learn to fly my plane a new way. If I don’t have time alone every day, how will I recharge? Can I adapt and learn a new way?
I’m learning to process my thoughts in new ways; to take mental breaks when I need them and to reengage as soon as I’m able. It’s not perfect, and I don’t have it all figured out. (Just ask my family; they’ll tell you.) But I’m willing to learn.
The World’s Cracks Under Pressure
Just as we were all learning to fly our planes in a new way during these changes, our world’s cracks were revealed. At first we banded together, singing from balconies and putting teddy bears in our windows in displays of solidarity. But then situations of racial injustice brought our attention to some of the cracks. Protests that turned violent. Uncomfortable exchanges on social media. An ugly election season.
It’s all so terribly discouraging. Why can’t we all just get along? Our world is cracked. Sometimes we can try to forget about the cracks, but they are always there.
“In this world you will have trouble.” -Jesus (John 16:33)
Will our world ever learn a different way to fly?
The Church’s Cracks Under Pressure
This was the one, though, that took me by surprise. In this troubled time, the imperfect mettle of my church was revealed. It cracked.
Tim Keller warned the world’s pastors that the pressure of 2020 would affect the church in ways they wouldn’t expect. He warned them that though they would stand strong at first, like a lighthouse in a storm, that after some time had passed, the cracks would be revealed most unexpectedly.
Talking to my friends, I’m discovering that our church isn’t the only one. Churches around the country are being fired in the crucible, and are being found impure.
“What then? Are we Jews [religious people] any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
Romans 3:9-12 MSG
Is the church going to learn a new way to fly the plane?
God Knew About The Cracks The Whole Time
So now we know. We are broken. The world is broken. Our churches are broken. We all have cracks.
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Our world is wretched.
We, broken and desperate sinners, are wretched.
And yes, even our churches are wretched.
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
But our God is in the business of fixing cracks. He is making all things new. All wretched things will be made beautiful – in us, in our world, and in our churches – because he delights in us, because he wants to shine his light on the world and bring hope, and because the church is his chosen vehicle to bring God’s Word alive in his people and in the world.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Praise God! He saw the deep, damning cracks before the “plane” of creation even took off. He could have left us to self-destruct. He could have started over in another universe, but he choose to stay. He chose to heal us and bring us back to him!
Waiting For Rescue
A cracked world that is filled with cracked people (even the ones we most hoped we could trust) is a difficult place to live. But friends, don’t lose hope.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9 NIV
When United Flight 232 came down in the cornfields of Iowa, it tipped to the side at the last second, and as a result the crash was catastrophic. The assembled rescuers looked on in shock. They couldn’t imagine that anyone would have survived as the massive plane tumbled nose-over-tail across the field.
You can imagine their surprise when dazed survivors with hardly a scratch began to get up from their seats and walk toward the rescuers, drawn to the salvation they trusted the flashing sirens could deliver.
Suddenly the community of Sioux City roused itself to help those who so desperately needed it. Rescuers set up triage. Hospitals arranged for large numbers. And the pilots, who had somehow managed to save hundreds of lives, now (still alive!) let go of the controls and simply awaited rescue.
In this broken and needy world, filled with cracks and cracked people, sometimes we are the rescuer and sometimes we need to be rescued.
With the help of God’s Spirit at work in us, we continue to connect with others, even though it hurts sometimes. We reach out with hope to a world that pushes us away and continue to serve in love. And we trust that though God’s church is imperfect, it is His vehicle of grace to teach and grow us. So we continue to attend after it hurts us. We help and serve and don’t give up.
And we await our Rescuer.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation,
my stronghold and my refuge,
2 Samuel 22:3
Bring It Home
- What would it look like to await rescue on a difficult day? (Meditate on Psalm 46:10; See also 2 Samuel 22.)
- Even cracked people can rescue others. (On Flight 232, many injured passengers saved the lives of others.) How can you step into the broken world and be a rescuer?
- Have you been hurt by a cracked church? God’s word says that the church and Christian community is important for us. (Hebrews 10:24-25, Colossians 3:16, Matthew 18:20; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31; Acts 2:42-47) Ask God to show you how you can believe what he says about the church when your cracked church has hurt you. What small step do you think he would have you take in faith?
“The Stress Balloon: This is Why Your Feel So Overwhelmed”
“The Coronavirus Side Effect That Churches Didn’t Expect”
“Personal Growth: Resilience and Anti-Fragility”