Walter Brueggeman points out the scriptural pattern of disorientation and reorientation, such as we find in the Psalms. Not surprisingly, you can’t get to reorientation before you walk through disorientation, so we don’t just have Psalms of celebration but also of sorrow, anger, and lament. This pattern of disorientation and reorientation is all over the scripture, but we often ignore it because we are so terrified of disorientation. Many a worship service creates ample space for celebration but little to no space for lament. We are meant, of course, to hold both and in fact, you can only hold either if you hold both!
Indeed, it’s deconstruction—when things fall or are pulled apart—that we find real faith and are transformed. And life will faithfully lead us to the places of deconstruction. An unfortunate reality, but one which God uses mightily. At the same time, it’s wiser to practice deconstruction and reconstruction before we are forced there by the sorrows of life. Yes, it can actually be practiced before we get there.
All the practices outlined so far are about deconstruction.
· We confess our need for a Savior, deconstructing our longing to be complete on our own
· We embrace weakness, deconstructing our lust to be without limits or to be “in control” on our own terms
· We name and label (rather than judging and hating) our weaknesses and our false self, deconstructing our need to look and feel powerful
· We learn to live in the question, “God, how can you be so good?”, deconstructing our persistent impulse to be the center of the universe
All of this feels like a stripping away. These practices effectively clear the land, helping us to “lose our life.” Only then are we prepared for reconstruction. And just as it takes great maturity to withstand deconstruction without freaking out, reconstruction, too, takes great maturity. Even more so, perhaps. We live in a society that loves deconstruction but resists reconstruction. We love to pull narratives apart and demonstrate how they don’t work, but we resist the work of entering into new narratives. Many people, for example, leave the church when they find the teaching inadequate but then end up throwing the baby out with the bath-water, as it were. Unfortunately, it’s easier for us to stay huffy and offended than to live into a story. It’s not a coincidence that offense seems to the guiding ethos of our day.
Living into a new story takes maturity, and it’s the maturity of being able to live in tension, which we human being resist like hell itself. Most people, myself included, demand the comfort of having everything figured and sorted. But Biblical faith always calls us into places where not everything makes sense, not all the answers are given, not everything is resolved. Of course, you can’t have faith in any other context! In this place, God can actually become God in our lives. It takes character and maturity from us, as we are led by the Spirit of God to trust and believe in new ways. Only then does life become the rich experience of abundance which Jesus enjoyed, even in dark and painful world.