What does it mean for us to really believe that God can pluck us from a sea of billions and give us freedom?

It wrecks us.


The round beams from the headlamps chased each other up the dim stairwells.

We followed them.

I ran my fingers along the dusty walls of the corridors. Not much traffic passes this way. Even in the dark, that much was clear. The beams kept running on ahead of us, bouncing the way they do when they’re attached to the foreheads of preschool boys.

And suddenly the darkness broke above us by way of a creaky metal door, and we were set free.

Up here on the roof, the breeze skirted the flat, circular space, ruffling the little boys’ hair around the straps of their headlamps. The concrete walls of the rooftop curved up at the sides like the lip of a plate, stopping at just about eye level so you could peer down over them at the crush of high-rise apartment complexes below.

It was like being in a fishbowl, a big concrete one, suspended dozens of stories above the ground.

Except that in this fishbowl we could see out and no one else could see in.

“We had a friend who would climb up to the roof sometimes just because it was the only place he could go where no one could see him,” my friend Sarah said with a laugh.

She comes up here for the same reason — to let the boys run around free all by themselves under a sky zigzagged with clotheslines. As the daylight fades, the sun-baked concrete roof cools and the megacity breeze hits us all like sea air on a sunburn.

It feels amazing. We breathe.

It’s different up here.

Sarah said that one time they counted the windows they could see from their living room window and estimated that maybe half a million people lived just in their line of sight.

And that was just from one window.

From up here, there’s 360 degrees of high rise after high rise stacked on top of each other. Looking down over the wall was like peering into giant boxes packed to the gills with the trappings of life – school and jobs and family and cooking dinner. Windows and windows and windows into millions of lives, all living and breathing and striving for something.

It’s a billion-ton train, one big collective worldwide breath we’re breathing, crushed up against neighbors and friends and family, eyes forward, not up.

As individualistic as we like to think we are on our side of the world, we know it’s true.

And here from the roof, it shows.

We’re doing the done thing. All piled up on top of each other.

Every day.

It takes a lot to wreck something like that.

It takes a lot to even realize that it can be wrecked.

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I thought about that as I stood on the roof, eyes scanning the tiny windows, the dusk breeze filling my lungs.

What does it mean to live for a God we can’t see when all we know is to live like everyone we see? What does it mean to follow Him radically when it makes no sense in the framework of what we know of the world?

What does it mean for us to really believe that God can pluck us from a sea of billions and give us freedom?

I took a long, deep breath.

It wrecks us.

That’s all it can do.

There’s no alternative.

A few days later, I sat on the living room floor next to someone who lived behind one of those tiny windows. She said her life used to rise and fall on the wind of that worldwide breath.



She was doing okay. She really wasn’t interested in being set free from the tidal pull of the masses. She didn’t see a reason to want something different.

She didn’t know what freedom felt like in her lungs.

“But now I know,” she said with a big smile. “I tell my friends I don’t know how to explain it to them … I don’t know how to explain what it feels like. Jesus wrecks your whole life, everything you think you know. Everything you’ve learned about how to live. He tears it all down. And then He rebuilds it.”


The night we stood on the roof, as I watched the boys run and tumble, I thought about freedom.

I thought about how with faith we can reach up and grasp it, faith tinier than a mustard seed, faith that can move mountains. Faith that can overturn high-rise apartments full of the clutter of our lives. Faith that is willing to trade everything earthly for two lungs full of the air up here, two lungs full of the kind of freedom that can turn our lives absolutely upside down.

I thought about the corridor we use to get up there to it.

Few find it.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

And that doesn’t mean the freedom at the end of the stairs isn’t real.

It takes adult discipline. It takes childlike abandon.

We have to walk away from the clutter — all of it.

We have to get off the couch, strap on that light and make that climb to ever taste it for ourselves. We dive into who God is in His Word, begging Him to show us Himself at any cost, because the payoff is worth it. We wake up early. We keep His name on our lips and hearts. We run like kids aching to be set free. We ask for it. We strive for it.

He hears.

It’s hard to explain, but when that door cracks open and we truly breathe, one thing’s for sure.

It’s worth that climb.

9 Responses

  1. just read these words today and shout Amen! His freedom is wrecking my world and it’s beautiful and amazing. Good words.

  2. Hey! Also really appreciated this post- and I randomly found your blog a few hard ago and your periodic posts are truly a huge inspiration to me and push me closer toward our beautiful God! I wonder how many hearts your words have touched? Keep it up!! God bless you richly!!

  3. I love your posts, the insight and honesty is so refreshing. I never thought of Jesus’ effect on my life as “wrecking it” so He can rebuild it but it sure describes what happened. I love the way you talk of feeling “freedom in my lungs”. It really is that tangible. Thanks for your blog.

  4. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

    Who the son sets FREE is FREE indeed!!!!

    I watched passion of the Christ again and of course cried my eyes out. It always keeps me focused to see the torture and pain Christ paid for me. I often wonder why did he have to be tortured so much couldn’t he just die and easy death.

    Love you Grace, Wanda

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. It’s mind blowing isn’t it … that my sin was that costly … that His love is that big! What a reminder that our freedom … and our decisions … are both no small thing. Amazing. HALLELUJAH.

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