Last week we looked at chapters 13 and 14 in Ted Tripp’s Broken Down House. We are looking at how we live in the midst of a fallen world (a broken down house). Chapter 13 begins by looking at how we feel when “Life is Hard!” Tripp says that the difficulties of our life, big and small, can cause us to question God’s wisdom, love, and power. We may look at a week and determine it to be “good” because it was “comfortable, predictable, pleasurable, controllable, successful,etc” but God may have another “good” in mind. “He is using this period of time to continue the work of radical rescue and restoration that he has begun in us.” (165) Tripp compares us to an athlete in training. We so easily see an athlete train his physical body for the game, for the test. Daily, he practices, strengthens, stretches, runs, etc to grow and the drills and exercises are not pointless or random or without a purpose. Similarly, God is training us-“building you up from frailty, immaturity, and weakness, and making you capable in areas where before you could only dream of success. Where your spirit tends to be slow, selfish and lethargic, he is developing in you new reflexes and habit patterns of love and service to others. ” (166)
How does one survive this kind of training? With love. The community of love (believers)comes alongside to comfort, strengthen, give hope, be present with, guide, give wisdom, warn, correct, be the presence of God’s love. He describes the shape of that love as cruciform love– shaped like the cross, willing self-sacrifice for the redemptive good of another. He spends pages 172-174 listing specific ways that cruciform love is lived out. These were some of my favorites:
It means not keeping yourself so busy with you and yours that you have no practical time to love others.
It means being committed to knowing people, because you can minister only in very limited ways to those whom you do not know.
It means being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of others.
It means being perserverant and patient even when the love you give is not returned.
It means admitting you are still learning to love as you have been loved.
It means being willing to own up to your own sin and admit your faults.
It means being willing to have your schedule and plans interrupted and altered.
It means daily remembering Jesus, being in awe of the gift of his love, and living thankfully.
Chapter 14 is a call to celebrate that grace we have been given. He reminds us that the things that we say to ourselves about ourselves will determine how much we hold on to God’s grace. Do we think we are self- sufficient? We won’t hold very tightly to God’s grace if we are. Do we believe we can earn our salvation with our good works? If we do, we are not holding on to God’s grace with both hands. His final application is to ask what our dream is. “What you dream for, what you hope for, what you work for, what you make strategic life decisions to pursue, and what you celebrate will all be determined by what you tell yourself you need the most.” (181)
Our final book study will be next month- What a joy and a challenge this book has been.