Bad Bricks

I am amazed (and quite jealous) of those individuals who have true artistic talent. Maybe it’s their seemingly free spirited way of life or their ability to “see” through a different lens than mine which is made of geometric lines and sharp edges. Their drawings seem to be soft and flowing, while mine look like a mixture of toothpicks spilled on the table.  When I draw I want to reach for a ruler and protractor. They close their eyes and let the creative juices flow.
I think that’s why I love brick work.  There is a fine art to good lines, choosing just the right brick to be next on the wall, and a beauty of the completed project. One thing that stands out to me is a brick that just doesn’t belong. It makes me wonder how it even made it into part of the pallet and why someone didn't catch the out of place piece.  The desire to grab a chisel and hammer and like a surgeon skillfully remove the bad brick is tempting, but I know if you're not careful the whole wall will come crashing down. So the brick remains until a more skillful hand can come along, repairing without damaging.

I’ve had some bad bricks in my life. Bricks that were a part of the foundation of my faith but had no business being there.  Wrong thoughts about God, His character, and providence which didn't come from scripture but were mainly developed from an attempt to cope with life. I would say things like God wouldn’t, God would never, God is so, and then fill in the blank. Each time creating my own god. A god outside of scripture.

Thankfully, if we are willing, the Master Craftsman comes along and begins to reveal Himself and remove the brick like a Jenga pro. Carefully tapping the out of place cube and seeing if it is ready to be removed. Only He doesn’t place it at the top of the pile but replaces it with just the right piece of truth about who He is. He loves us enough to not be satisfied with leaving the bad brick in our foundation. He knows left unchecked, life will inevitably happen causing our foundation to shake. It’s in these moments of shaking, when our world is rocked, and every brick is tested.

This happened for me in 2010. I thought I knew a lot about God, but now I began to ask the question, “Is He good?”. My bad brick protected me. It was the thought “my mom had been through enough, nothing bad would ever happen for the rest of her life. The loss of a son. The loss of her husband. Physical struggles. It was enough, and God would see to it nothing else would cause her pain.”  With that there was a sigh of relief and confidence the worst days were behind us, behind her.  

But in 2010, I watched as she said goodbye to yet another son unexpectedly. I watched her devastation and her heartbreak like I was caught in the most horrible of movies on repeat in my head. The morning I left her house after telling her he was gone, I left as a prosecuting attorney. Calling God to the stand. I have questions!

I spent years in the courtroom with God on the stand. All the while searching for the truth. Was He who I had thought Him to be? Or could there be more to faith which I had never quite understood? Was He good?  I read a passage from C.S. Lewis’ book A Grief Observed and he seemed to put into words my hearts’ struggle:

“Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.”
C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Even though I came at Him with fury, demanding answers, He met me with compassion in a courtroom He was under no obligation to be in. He began to unravel the misconceptions and loose brinks. And perhaps for the first time I truly knew the love of God more tangible than ever before. It was a journey. But the foundation is more sure today than it has ever been.

I rested my case. Excused the Witness. And now I could see His face.

'My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.' Job 42:5

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Charlotte Norman

1 Comment

Janice Bates - May 23rd, 2024 at 5:38pm

Beautiful story. You should write a book. Yes, in 2015, I questioned God. My mom had just died. We had met George & Marshalla Heartman a few months before. George drove 3 1/2 hrs north to come to the visitation. I was truly grateful for his friendship. That next Sunday after my mom's funeral we came to the bridge. Been there since. Drove back up north working 4 days a week, staying w/my dad helping to care for. Then drive back her to our home for 3 days, attend church. After church drive 3 1/2 hrs to be w/my dad. I did this for 5 1/2 months, then my sweet dad died.