Chicken Little may have been a conspiracy theorist, but for the first time in my life I can relate to his overhead pessimism. The sky has been falling at our house for more than a week. Waking up is hard enough under ordinary circumstances, but add the din of roofers tromping overhead before the break of dawn and it’s downright excruciating. Scraping, pounding, stomping–everything amplified by a hollow attic and pre-coffee auditory sensory perception; the trollop is somewhat akin to Patton’s armored divisions tracking across North Africa. Mornings these days are like a lake’s glassy surface shattered by falling rock. Our only consolation is that an end is in sight. After a week and a half, the two shirtless roofers are applying the final bundles of shingles, and my anticipation of reclaiming peace has attracted spiritual overtones.
I find it difficult to focus on the simplest routines with overhead distraction–morning cup of Community Coffee, casual conversation with my wife, Scripture reading in Swahili, wisdom from Chambers, and, most of all, prayer. To make matters worse, it doesn’t take a lot to derail my train of thought. I learned at an early age that bowing my head to pray is a dangerous act–I rarely stay awake long enough to get beyond “Our Father.” Reading requires enormous concentration lest I scan the same sentences repeatedly without an ounce of retention. Suffice to say that my mental and spiritual productivity wanes when the sky is falling.
Life may seem prone to chaos, but all too often the distractions are of my own making. I’m to blame for much of what drags me away from God’s best, and my most dangerous distractions are born of contradiction. I read about courage while paralyzed by fear, so I refuse to move. I claim to love while nursing resentment, and it turns into hate. I fantasize about missions while fostering prejudice, losing sight of the goal along the way. I preach on grace while doling out judgment, disqualifying myself from caring in the process. Spiritual integrity is required to weather the fallout of falling skies.
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.…” (Philippians 3:12-14)