Several months ago I had the privilege of hanging out with an up and coming pastor from Seattle named Mark Driscoll (and by “hanging out” I mean that my pastor was meeting with him and I got to sit in the same room). Although Driscoll has a great deal of wisdom and is an incredibly godly man, he’s also not afraid to speak his mind bluntly, especially concerning the Emerging Church movement, so he’s become a lightning rod for criticism.
Knowing this about Driscoll, my pastor asked him how he coped with the the slander, betrayals, and overall critiques. Driscoll explained that he has used those hardships to make himself stronger. Each hit was like having a brick thrown at him, but instead of letting those bricks destroy him, he chose to take the bricks and lay them down as a foundation on which he could stand, stronger and more sure.
To be perfectly honest, this analogy made little sense to me at the time. Was this just a manly way of saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade?” Ie. “when life gives you bricks, build a house?” Whatever, Driscoll….
Well it wasn’t until I recently had a proverbial “brick” thrown in my face that I realized just what Driscoll was talking about. He wasn’t simply advising that we make the most of a bad situation. Instead, we should aim for more than survival. There is a way to take those bricks and actually strengthen ourselves with them.
In case this analogy doesn’t connect with you either, here is how Driscoll’s illustration makes sense in my mind….
Imagine for a moment that you are an 8th grade boy. One day you get in a fight with some scrappy kid at school, and the whole affair plays out somewhat innocently until, all of a sudden, the little punk picks up a brick and throws it at your face.
Now at first, you’re gonna be in some pretty major pain, and your face is gonna be a mess. You’re probably knocked off your feet, you’ve got a broken nose, there’s blood everywhere, and on top it all you’re humiliated. You may lay on the ground for quite awhile moaning and groaning. You might even cry.
But eventually you get back up, you go to the doctor, your face heals, and you move on. Your face is still sore for awhile, and you may even have a scar from it, but you know what? You are now the kid who had a brick thrown in his face but lived to tell the tale! You are the man!
Now you are stronger and braver than you were before. Why? Because the next time you get in a fight with a kid, his puny little middle schooler fist is gonna look like a marshmallow compared to that brick. Nothing can scare you now because not even a brick in your face was able to conquer you.
And in that way, the brick in your face becomes a point of strength. In fact, it is a landmark in your life that you can stand on. If you can recover from a brick in your face, then you can overcome anything!
Plus, people will know that about you. They’ll know you as the kid that wasn’t slowed down by a broken face. You could bleed all over the ground but still come to school with your head held high, and they’ll respect you for it. You’ve got street cred. The 8th grade girls will be all over you.
That brick is now a part of who you are, and because of that brick, you are better and stronger than you were before.
It is the same with the proverbial bricks. If someone throws a brick in your face by betraying you, lying to you, or hurting you, it’s gonna hurt at first. You might lie on the ground for awhile in pain and shame. But if you can get up, if you can heal and move on, then that brick can become a point of strength. You can look back on that time in your life and remember, “That really really hurt, but it did not overcome me. I am still standing, and I am still moving forward. And if I could overcome that, then I can overcome anything.”
In this way, you can use those bricks to build a strong foundation for your life. You can look back on your life, look at all those bricks that were thrown your way, and rejoice in the knowledge that you are still standing. God was faithful, and you got through it.
Those bricks are therefore a reminder that when we are weakest, God is strongest. When we think that we can do little more than survive, God makes us into more than conquerors. So the next time that life throws a brick in your face, just remember that, while it might hurt right now and you may be tempted to scream a few choice swear words, you can use those bricks to build a firm foundation for the future. As Kanye West wisely rapped, what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger. 🙂