I've been there

I've been there
Photo by Kevin Bauman, 100AbandonedHouses 

The stately houses whisper on the wind. A porch had fallen in on the corner home. With a crash, all the hopes of all the years and memories crumbled down the face of the graffitied red brick building. Long forgotten, long unloved. “We’ve been there,” echoes long and low from a dozen other homes on the street. The wind whips the trees and their rattle echoes cold.

These homes had seen the riots, the flight, the emptiness, the loss. They saw the abandonment, and children walking to dilapidated schools struggling to stay open. They heard the shots ring out — oh, the stories they could tell, the tears they would shed.

But they also saw the beauty. The old stately homes that were designed and built with care. They saw the remnant. Neighbors that came together and trick or treated or sang carols or had cookouts in the parks between the blocks. They saw it all and still they stand.

They hold up their abandoned neighbors and in all their stately beauty they are not too high to stoop low. “We’ve been there,” they sigh and ache.

That’s what I love about these chilly, crumbly streets. The hope, the heart, the willingness to help. I’ve had homeless people tell me where to find food. I’ve had elderly neighbors tell me solemnly, “You are welcome here. But we weren’t when we came.” The beauty from ashes, grace from loss, love from racism that echoes with eternity.

For it was God Himself that came down. God Himself that walked our crumbly paths. It was God Himself that became what we are, received what we gave, and died the death we deserved so that He can now say, “I’ve been there” and stand with us when we crumble.

“Immanuel” God with us. Surely He has borne our sorrows and carried our griefs. He allowed himself to be beaten, cracked, crumbled, crushed. But He was abandoned, so we would never be.

And He sits risen, satisfied, glorified, the first of millions to come. A promise that we will not be left to rot like those abandoned homes in Detroit. We’ll be redeemed, risen, perfected, satisfied with Him.

But for now, He stands with us. Understanding, whispering, “I’ve been there.”

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

(Very brief history of Detroit here for those interested. I wish I could find something with more of a human connection, but those are hard to come by. If I find something, I will be sure to share it on socials.)