The Soul as a City: Ruins or Reconstruction? ~ BitterSweetLife

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Soul as a City: Ruins or Reconstruction?

Soul walls

Earlier this year I had a picture of the soul as a ruined city, a city that God rebuilds. My theological metaphor ran like this:

Our souls lie in ruins, vulnerable to any and every enemy. Then Christ comes along and brings restoration. Nehemiah-like, he starts to rebuild the walls. Suddenly, resistance is an option.

We discover that we can fight against sin successfully, that we can defy our darker impulses. There is a means of defense. The circle of our “free will” is expanded to include something besides failure. Jesus rebuilds the ruins, brick by brick, and sets his Spirit to patrol the walls. Then he hands us the key, and says, “Be alert.”

The power of defense is all Christ’s. But the responsibility to keep the walls from being breached still lies with us.

I was fairly happy with the analogy. But more recently I developed a variant on the picture.

I’m standing inside my own soul, and it’s not what you’d call a construction site. Things are coming down, not going up. I jump to one side to avoid a wall that comes crashing down, only to narrowly evade death at the prongs of a falling chandelier. The air is thick with drywall dust and plaster crunches underfoot. While the destruction is magnificent, I’ve got to wonder what will be left when all of this is over.

I’ve asked a similar question before. After all the so-called ‘work’ put in on my soul, will the final job be restoration or demolition? Seems like so much still ‘has to go’ that God may need to raze everything to the ground and get a clean start.

If that’s really necessary, what would be left? If the soul is a house, and you demolish it, what happens to things like personality? Maybe you retain the charm of an old, English hillside where a castle once stood. An aura of strength and adventure seeps out of the grass, where the remains of towering walls can be seen if you look closely. That ruined fortress could be my soul, after every seamy vein has been worked out of the rock.

Or not.

My love for the dramatic sometimes gets the better of me. The picture I find in the Bible is one of gradual, steady change—maybe not much, but change, nonetheless. And for the better. That means that God is at work in my life in subtle ways, and that he may be more aware of the progress than I am. I suppose this really is true. I just think, “God, I’m not giving you much to work with. Where are the materials coming from?”

I realize the pointlessness of the question as soon as I ask it.

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Will Robison said...

Great metaphor... I'm picturing Stalingrad, circa 1942-3 for my own soul... perhaps Los Angeles, circa 2006 during the War with the Machines from Terminator. Either way, God has probably had to call in the Extreme Makeover crew and about a thousand different contractors... Maybe that's what all those calls Andy's receiving are related to - maybe God needs someone experienced with heavy construction!

Trailady said...

This was a great read! Really neat analogy. I'm not sure where the materials come from either, but if God can speak a world into existence and calm a storm, He can recreate and quiet my soul.

Norma said...

Put on your hard hat (armor), because I'm sensing a few chinks in the mortar here.

Ariel said...

I like the picture of Stalingrad, Will...also, Trailady, the mention of God's ex nihilo approach to construction is very apt.

"Put on your hard hat (armor), because I'm sensing a few chinks in the mortar here."

Does that mean I can expect a critique...? Or was that "the critique?"

unveiled said...

This metaphor reminds me of an excerpt from one of my favorite compilations of writings on humility. I'm going to post it on my blog. It's titled Unwelcome Demolition.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife