This post was originally published in the Sunday, April 24, 2011 Midway Herald (our bulletin)…three days prior to the April 27th tornado Super-Outbreak that devastated the state of Alabama.
Destruction can happen in a single moment. Rebuilding rarely ever does.
Residents from Oklahoma through North Carolina are experiencing the lengthy rebuilding process following last weekend’s deadly severe storms. Americans are still rebuilding from traumatic school attacks at Virginia Tech and Columbine, CO—anniversaries of both occurred this past week. Our country is still picking up the pieces of the economy, fear, politics, and military action from the 9/11 attacks of nine-and-a-half years ago.
It’s almost always easier and quicker to tear down than to build up. It takes months or even years to build a building that we can demolish in 15 seconds once it becomes obsolete. Ingesting a poisonous substance has immediate consequences, but eating the healthiest foods takes months or years to cause measurable improvements. We (and by “we,” I mean someone who knows how to chop down a tree…not myself) spend only a few hours chopping down a tree that needed decades to grow big and tall.
Theologically, God did the same with sin. Adam and Eve introduced sin with two bites and God spent thousands of years preparing the hearts of humanity for redemption through His Son. We have the tremendous benefit of witnessing the process on the pages of inspired Scripture. The saving gospel was planned “before the foundation of the earth” and found its fulfillment in the “fullness of time” (Ephesians 1:4, 10). Though God was physically capable of redeeming sin in the garden, His infinite wisdom knew we weren’t capable of receiving it. So he rebuilt in much lengthier time than we destroyed.
If our lives feel destroyed, God’s work through Christ ensures that we don’t have to stay that way. Thankfully, the Lord forgives us immediately upon obedience (cf. Acts 22:16). But we can’t undo a moment of hurt with a single moment of good. We can’t hold ourselves to an impossible standard, nor should we expect it of others. We can always look for starting moments.
Destruction can happen in a single moment. Rebuilding rarely ever does. Starting always does.