Do you remember the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral? How long ago was that? COVID has messed up my sense of time – so it’s hard for me to intuit how long ago things like that were.
Last April marked the two-year anniversary of that fire. The other night Janice and I watched a couple of documentary presentations on where things stand today. It’s taking a long time to fix. Archeologists sift through every bagful of debris collected. They find 15th Century nails, for instance, and preserve them. That takes time. Off-site carpenters construct replacement beams, and the beams to support other beams. It all takes time. One of the most time-consuming tasks involve the removal of damaged structure. You can’t just go up there and start tearing things down. You will fall through undetected damaged walls or ceilings just trying to get at the visually damaged structure. It’s a huge task.
The process of dismantling the charred ruins from the fire fascinated me. They have to start at the top if they are to preserve as much as possible. So, they decided to build scaffolding all around the building including all the way around the top. (That structure in and of itself has its own beauty.) Carpenters, precariously hanging a hundred feet up, hang down like cave divers to access the charred material.
So… hanging from scaffolding on a rope more than a hundred feet up, secured by a harness around their waist, they are expected to yank out big pieces of wood, sometimes charred, sometimes not. But what do they brace against to pull on these things? They can’t hold on or plant their feet on the actual building. It might all come crashing down. When you rope down a cave, the cave wall serves as an
anchoring point. But not for the spidermen of Notre Dame! It’s nearly impossible work.
Which led me to think about our lives. Sometimes we feel like we are hanging from a thread. And the struggles of life make us feel like we are hanging way above a terrifying precipice. Now, God has gifted us with skills and gifts to “hang in there.” Those gifts and graces enable us to get through all of life, not just the scary parts.
But with all that equipment, with all those skills and resources, it’s really hard to navigate without anchor points. What’s going through my head is the image of launching a boat. If you’re on the dock and you put one foot in the boat and then push off with the other foot, the boat will drift away from the dock. Why? Because the dock is anchored in the ground and you can push away from it. However, try to launch the same boat while you’re floating in the water—how well is that going to go? You can’t push it because you have no solid point from which to push.
So it is with life. It’s hard to launch without an anchoring point. There has to be some solid reference point for leverage. We live in a fluid ever-changing world where things that we thought grounded us shift all the time. But God doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6). God is immovable (Psalm 144:1). In our lives, when we need an anchoring point or when we need an immovable reference point—God is that.
And that’s what church is for. It’s so that children can learn where the reference points of life are. Knowing where the ground is allows you to fly with confidence. Knowing what is immovable allows you to press against it and move the things that need to move. Not having those strongholds to stand on makes life hard, like pulling remnants of a fire while dangling on a rope way up in the cupulas of the Notre Dame Cathedral.
The Scriptures only serve as reference points for us when we know them. Singing the Psalms and reading the Gospels, and hearing the Word proclaimed will offer us those handles to hang on to when confronted with the realities of this life we know as the present.
Leaning on the anchor points, Craig
Bless the Lord who is my immovable Rock. He gives me strength and skill in battle. He is always kind and loving to me; he is my fortress, my tower of strength and safety, my deliverer. He stands before me as a shield. Psalm 144:1,2