Pieces on the ground


Today, I’m going to take apart the lyrics of one of my songs, line by line. I’m going to do that because this song has a vital message that is more relevant today than when I wrote it 20 years ago.

All fall down — pieces on the ground

All fall down — pieces on the ground

This is the chorus or refrain of the song — the part that repeats itself numerous times and the verses build around it. It is the major theme, and as such the theme is a celebration of brokenness and vulnerability. Now why would you celebrate brokenness and vulnerability? Because it is a requirement of spiritual growth and transformation.

In his 2011 book, Maximum Faith, George Barna chronicles 10 stages of spiritual transformation. He did not pull these stages out of a hat, but as a social researcher, he found them through interviewing hundreds of Christians. These are the stages that emerged from his studies. They are therefore not steps to get somewhere, but verifiable stages of actual growth backed up by sound research. Stage seven is where the bulk of spiritual transformation takes place, and it is revealing that the majority of Christians he studied are no farther than stage three. It is not my intent to go through all these stages, but to point out that stage seven is the pivotal one — the one that unlocks the power of God in a person’s life — and “few there be that find it.” And what is stage seven? Brokenness and it’s resulting vulnerability. All fall down — pieces on the ground.

When I wrote this, I thought I was declaring some future judgment on humanity. I was heralding the end. Now I realize I was celebrating the beginning. I was celebrating the turning point of both an individual and a society. (I believe these stages have social implications as well.) It is the end of the best we can do followed by what God does in and through us.

The three verses of this song point out some of the attempts we make to avoid or cover up this brokenness — how we try to protect ourselves from being vulnerable.

They live in high places

They’re keeping everybody under

They smile with two faces.

But they can’t hear the coming thunder

This verse shows how it is human nature to try and cover up our weaknesses with a show of strength — human strength — and how that power is always false and creates a hypocritical front. The distant thunder is the reality that this human facade will ultimately be brought down. But this loss of human control is a good thing, not a bad thing. It introduces Jesus as the only king. We fall down and worship Him as we all will, anyway, at the end.

All fall down — pieces on the ground

All fall down — pieces on the ground

The pride and the glory

The imposition and the power

The right hand — the left hand

The clock hand turning in the tower

This second verse continues the theme of control and the approaching fall. And the hand grips tighter as the end nears.

When I first wrote this about the right hand and the left hand, I worried that I might have just chosen a cheap rhyme to go with the clock hand, but I stuck with it anyway, and now I realize with that, I captured one of the greatest divisions ever in our country, and in many parts of the world, between the right and the left — between conservative and liberal solutions to human problems, neither of which are sufficient.

All fall down — pieces on the ground

All fall down — pieces on the ground

And now the final verse:

The walls of this city

A fortress keeping us apart

The law with no pity

Around a barricaded heart

Are we building walls, or taking them down, and what about the real wall around our hearts by which we isolate ourselves? The law always builds walls. We have to hide. We mustn’t show that we can’t follow it. We must appear strong, so we resist breaking, the one thing that will release God’s power in our lives.

It’s the brokenness that releases the power of God in our lives and when that happens, He is in charge, not us. There’s no other way to get this. And so we celebrate our brokenness and whatever it was that caused it. When we’re in pieces on the ground, there’s no choice but to be transformed. And when God puts us back together, He leaves the cracks between our broken pieces so His light can shine through and the story of our brokenness can been seen and told.

All fall down — pieces on the ground

All fall down — pieces on the ground

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