When I was young, my family lived in England.
It was great.
Maybe I should rephrase that. In all honesty, to me now… as a forty-two year old Dad, it was great. But back then, to a teenaged American in the eighties, I just wanted my MTV. And my friends. And my mall. And an iota of sunshine.
Living in a foreign country, having moved there from Central Arkansas, I had opportunities of a lifetime… to see things that most people at the time only dreamed about seeing.
There was no internet to look things up. You wanted a picture? No Google Earth Street View. There were encyclopedias and dictionaries. Oh and the occasional post card from someone who had been there, or picture books.
Or you had to go there.
But I was less than positive about it.
This was not a place that I thought I wanted to go.
Though a good and inquisitive kid for the most part, I still didn’t want to go to a castle every doggone weekend.
Every. Doggone. Weekend. Imagine the voice of the crabby self-centric teenager.
Another castle. Again. Another ruin. Again.
More monarchy, more pictures of old dead people who didn’t know how to smile and furniture that looks totally uncomfortable and why can’t we take flash pictures and why are we taking so many pictures I mean this place looks just like the last thirty castles and ruins and abbeys and houses we’ve seen for the last twenty weekends.
Is there a McDonald’s nearby for once? What I would do for a Quarter Pounder with cheese.
Three. Whole. Hours. Walking around in a castle. This thing goes on forever. I may die here. I know why no one smiled in those days in their pictures, because they had to walk 9 miles to get to the bathroom, and because the furniture is crazy uncomfortable. And because guys evidently wore tights or what could nearly be considered miniskirts over their tights. Speaking of which, I have to go to the bathroom. Where do we go and how long will it take to get there?
Did I say this thing goes on forever?
Admittedly, I appreciate it all now. I care about history, the past, things and people and stories other than me and very different than me… and I care about how those who are different than me can be very much the same as me.
And more and more I am in awe of the sheer magnitude, size, and splendor of so many of these places… these castles.
They do inside, seem to go on and on forever. Halls to stairs to turns to crevices to entries to rooms to theaters to alleys to kitchens, baths and quarters… Hundreds of thousands of square feet of tribute… to history, to family… to nation. Every block of cement, every piece of crafted wood or woven tapestry or hewn furniture part of a million stories that still breathe in and out and are connected to today.
There is far too much held there in these castles than our eyes can see, or our minds can even get a grip on.
And our hearts, I believe, are just like them.
I was thinking today about brokenness, how God is rebuilding and has rebuilt us. How He’s made us into what the Bible calls a “new creation”. I was thinking about how Easter is about rebuilding and new life… and how wildly eternal and cataclysmic the death and resurrection of Jesus is to us, to our hearts, lives and spirits.
I was thinking about how some people are changed so profoundly by this, while others so seemingly little.
I was thinking about how God says He rebuilds us so greatly, but how sometimes it feels that we are the same as we’ve ever been.
And I wondered why it is this way.
And then I thought about the complexity… the size… the magnitude and expanse of these castles called our hearts and I realized that maybe in order to be rebuilt, we have to realize how badly we need to be rebuilt.
The whole ruin. The whole heartache. The brokenness and the longing, rebellion and the sheer and unadulterated need that is us winding it’s way throughout all of our hearts.
You see, I think that there was a time in my life that I released part of my heart… part of this castle… maybe just a wing or a hallway or a room… to God. But not all of it.
I liked the rest of the castle that I lived from. I liked some of the wings. I liked some pieces and stories and furniture and whatever I had hidden away in boxes and corners and storage cabinets and basements. I didn’t want to give up what I thought was me in order to receive what He promised was more me than ever before.
And so I lived a partially re-created life.
Partially reborn and partially made new.
Which means I was only partially living.
I want you to know this Easter season, that there is so much to you. There is so much to me.
When God offers us a new life, new creation through the death and resurrection of Jesus and life lived through His Spirit… we should imagine recklessly what that means about the wild expanse of new life, promise and rebuilding that awaits.
Your life can change. So can mine.
But we have to open wide the whole castle to even the very foundation, where His work and grace and nurture and guidance and love can do their supernatural thing. We have to release to the truth that it is all broken, this palace. We have to see that it is shattered in a myriad of seen and unseen ways. And we have to allow the great Rebuilder to do just that… rebuild.
Our stories will shift and expand. Our eyes will see deeper and our hearts will love more fully, more completely and correctly.
These castles can be completely rebuilt.
They can be fully renewed, becoming greater and more eternal tributes than we can possibly imagine.
And that is a place that I would want to go.
Yes, even as a teenager.
Isaiah 29:13, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Proverbs 4:23, Hebrews 11:10