Chinua Achebe died last week. The great Nigerian Nobel prize winning author wrote Things Fall Apart in 1958, helping to revive interest in African literature. The book shined a spotlight on the effect of Western imperialism on Africa and the breakdown of traditional culture with the influx of white missionaries and oppression from various Nigerian ethnic groups.
I always thought this book and it’s title were a great metaphor for the general happenings in the world. Things tend to fall apart. The scientific term for this is “entropy.” The ordered, if left alone, becomes disordered. The structured becomes chaotic, and as history has shown, every great empire eventually collapses. Everything in the universe will atrophy over time if energy is not inserted to inspire reordering, structure, and purpose.
One of the great aspects of God’s story, I believe, is the redemption of broken things, over and over. Christ generously offers his creative power, again and again, restoring the broken and offering new hope. It’s interesting, knowing this, how we tend towards nostalgia, looking back at “the good old days”, failing to realize that better awaits us.
Though I am familiar with the words of the Bible, sometimes I need the words offered by the “great cloud of witnesses” to remind me that God is faithful, that even though everything appears impossibly broken, glory awaits. So, I look back to words penned by the saints, the ones who overcame, and lean on their trust and faith to guide me back to Jesus.
If you are in this space, and find that things do indeed fall apart, even those things that seemed impenetrable to entropy, consider the words of those who have gone before.
“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” -Corrie ten Boom
“Evil is real – and powerful. It has to be fought, not explained away, not fled. And God is against evil all the way. So each of us has to decide where WE stand, how we’re going to live OUR lives. We can try to persuade ourselves that evil doesn’t exist; live for ourselves and wink at evil. We can say that it isn’t so bad after all, maybe even try to call it fun by clothing it in silks and velvets. We can compromise with it, keep quiet about it and say it’s none of our business. Or we can work on God’s side, listen for His orders on strategy against the evil, no matter how horrible it is, and know that He can transform it.”
― Catherine Marshall, Christy
“Surrender–stillness–a ready welcoming of all stripping, all loss, all that brings us low, low into the Lord’s path of humility–a cherishing of every whisper of the Spirit’s voice, every touch of the prompting that comes to quicken the hidden life within: that is the way God’s human seed-vessels ripen, and Christ becomes “magnified” even through the things that seem against us. “Mine but to be still: Thine the glorious power, Thine the mighty will.”
― I.Lilias Trotter
“Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom, Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
“God will not permit any troubles to come upon us, unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty.” Peter Marshall
“If I had not felt certain that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings.” Adoniram Judson
“The other side of it is understanding the greatness of God, how great God is. If you believe in the
greatness of God, you will believe he will solve the problem and it will be a good solution. That’s where
as Christians we come to the problem with an understanding of God that comes from Jesus Christ. He is
the one who helps us understand the goodness of God and the greatness of God by his own death and his
resurrection and his triumph and his continuing existence. He calls to us and says, “God is good, and God
If we will accept that, then we have a way of approaching it. If we’re just thrown the problem, the problem
is dunked in our lap, and we don’t have any resources to deal with it, the natural response is, “I don’t want
to have anything to do with God.” It’s when you begin to understand the greatness of God as it is revealed
to us and as we love to sing about these wonderful songs we sing about the greatness of God. See that’s an
expression of a God who will see to it that everything comes out right. We have to have that and bear
witness to it between us and in our own minds, or we’re helpless with our suffering “- Dallas Willard
“Well eternity, of course, is a part of the picture. The child who is starving to death in the
Sudan this very moment, when it dies it enters into the presence of God, and it will affirm the goodness of
its existence because now it lives in the presence of God and will do so forever. God’s life is eternal, and
he gives that to others. A little child who dies is in his care. Without eternity, there is no solution to this
problem, and that’s just one dimension. The short thing you have to say is the greatness of God is what
sees to it that eventually everything comes out good and comes out right”.-Dallas Willard
What about you? What words have sustained you, and pushed you to Jesus when it seemed all was failing?
Seeking to fully live,
Linked up at: