In my city, in my neighborhood, just down the street, there's a church building. The building is really nothing to talk about. It's pretty plain and simple. But it did have a steeple. A very large steeple. And two weeks ago as I watched a tornado forming right over my house - standing paralyzed in my front window as the debris began circling the sky right in front of me - it turned north. And rather than destroying my house or ripping off my neighbor's roof, as if it was hungry and hunting something specific, it swooped down, grabbed the steeple off that church building, and tossed it to the ground like a piece of tin. And until last week, that sad steeple just laid there in the yard. Broken. Bruised. Tossed aside. And over the gigantic hole that was left in the roof is a blue tarp. An enormous blue tarp. A talking blue tarp. A blue tarp that says, "Don't you worry. I'm just temporarily filling in. I have no plans to stay. They're going to fix my friend the steeple. And they're going to make him bigger and stronger than ever! He'll be back. You'll see!"
As you drive across Alabama right now, through areas of wreckage and destruction, you'll find many church buildings just like the one down the street from me. Steeples ripped from the roofs. Brick and mortar swallowed, chewed up, and spit out. Buildings now on top of pews. And some of them - several of these church buildings - are just gone. And hopefully there are hundreds - even thousands - who have been reminded that their building was NOT the church. They are! That "their" pew and "their" seat and "their" whatever it was was actually never "theirs" in the first place. And that the steeple was a big, pointed, wooden image. That's all. We know this, right? I sure hope so. I'm praying so. And if it is so, I'm praying for a HUGE "What if...."
What if...churches everywhere, who are meeting right now to determine and figure out how to rebuild or replace that steeple instead decided to simply patch a hole and give that money for Kingdom purposes?
What if...churches who are still sifting through the debris decided that rather than spending millions to completely rebuild a building...they could move into the old theater or strip club or grocery store and REDEEM that space?
What if...churches - you know, the actual PEOPLE OF GOD - decided to refuse to just do what comes instinctively, naturally, and comfortably...and determine to get on their faces and ask the Lord if He possibly has a much bigger plan? What might happen?
I am praying that Jesus Christ will set hearts on fire for His Kingdom in such a way that churches everywhere will begin seeking and searching for the heart of God like Nehemiah did - standing in the midst of the rubble. He was ready to rebuild, but more than that, he was desperate for God to be made known.
God wants to rebuild those churches! He desires to redeem and restore lives.
But does He want to rebuild those buildings? Does He want to replace that steeple? I don't know. I can't answer that. But I'm praying that those responsible will ASK before they ACT.