All Fall Down

All Fall Down
Words and Music by John Fischer and Dan Russell

All fall down
Pieces on the ground
All fall down
Pieces on the ground

th-31

Click picture to hear song.

They live in high places
They’re keeping everybody under
They smile with two faces
But they can’t hear the coming thunder

The pride and the glory
The imposition and the power
The right hand, the left hand
The clock hand turning in the tower

The walls of this city
A fortress keeping us apart
The law with no pity
Around a barricaded heart

All fall down
Pieces on the ground
All fall down
Pieces on the ground

Ring around the rosey
Pocket full of posies
Ashes
Ashes
All fall down

He had served as Dean of Students in one of the most elite Christian colleges in the country. The students loved him at a time when there was great tension between students and administration all over the country. His secret was that he was accessible, compassionate and a good listener. He would make it his responsibility to seek out the most disgruntled students on campus, hear their grievances and make them feel their opinions were important. He remembered the name of every student he talked to. He actually did not last long as a dean, and it was said the reason was he was too sensitive. He took the troubles of every troubled student personally, and was soon crushed under the burden. So he went back to teaching, which he loved, and which limited the number of students he had to care for.

Later in his career, he transitioned into preaching and was sought after by a number of large, successful churches. He told me a story about one of those job offers that I never forgot. It was his final meeting with the selection committee and the Board of Elders. He had coasted through all the previous interviews with flying colors. As a final display of the churches solidarity behind him, the Chairman of the selection committee handed him a blank sheet of paper and asked him to write down what he needed from them. Fully expecting a salary figure, they were basically handing him a blank check, and were prepared to agree to whatever he put down. Sadly for them, what he put down was something that, after brief deliberation, they had to admit they were not willing to accept.

What had he written down? Three hundred thousand dollars? A half a million? No. What he had written down was: “The freedom to fail.”

39CEFB47-23A6-46FE-9D04-E185FE2064B5It’s been a difficult year for us so far, having a 16-year-old son in a residential treatment center four states away getting sober from drugs, and getting help catching up with his academics. In a crowd of other Christian parents, I am quiet as they tell of their kids off to Christian colleges and others in the mission field. Formerly I would have been reluctant to tell the truth about my son, concerned as I was with my reputation as a Christian leader. Now, however, I am proud to tell of our failures as parents and what they have accomplished. Walls have come down; expectations have been shattered; hearts that have been barricaded have become vulnerable and open. With daily phone conversations, weekly family therapy sessions via FaceTime, and monthly visits, we are growing closer than ever.

God is doing a thing in Chandler’s life and in ours that defies explanation. We are all finding the Spirit of God in the broken pieces of our lives as God is slowly piecing them back together, and it’s an adventure, indeed. We are all raw and vulnerable and waiting. It’s coming together, but it’s different than we thought it would be. God has big plans for Chandler. We are watching them unfold with anticipation and amazement. None of this would have been possible without failure.

Make sure you give yourself the freedom to fail. Dr. Phillip Hook did. I talked with him a oHook_20110612number of times after that interview, and he is eternally grateful he did not end up at that church. He went on to pastor a couple churches and then became Executive Director of a Christian camp in Texas. I am sure he walked around camp and listened to students and staff and knew them all by name.

I was one of those students he met with during that year he “failed” as a dean. He spent a couple of hours with four of us one afternoon in our dorm room. I never forgot that. Dr. Hook passed away four years ago and left thousands of lives that he touched because his heart had been opened by the failure in his own life.

“All fall down; pieces on the ground” is a celebration, when God shows up among the pieces. God is putting the pieces together in our lives; watch him do the same in yours.

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5 Responses to All Fall Down

  1. I keep thinking how you’ve mentioned not being sure of your parenting with Chandler. Having a brother who was adopted, I can promise you Chandler is in the right hands with you. No telling what another family might have done, or not done, in your situation. He landed in the right home, painful as it might be right now.

    On a completely different subject, I love these words from your song:
    The walls of this city
    A fortress keeping us apart
    The law with no pity
    Around a barricaded heart

    Reminds me of how fast the walls pop up when we try to defend something where law happens to be without justice (or pity) and how hard our hearts can become to the very thing God wants us to care about.

  2. Mark Seguin says:

    Great Catch, Pastor John – read a good thought out of my Franklin Planner today that kind of goes hand in hand w/ today’s Catch: “The next best thing in winning is losing! At least you’ve been in the race.” by Nelie Hersey Smith

  3. I love this song! Amazing! Message is right for today, even sounds brand new! I found it to be a song of worship telling the LORD like King David in the Psalms about what is going on! Also the message about freedom to fail, what honesty.. We will meet you soon Dr. Hook! Amen

  4. Heather says:

    How profound – God right there in the midst of the pieces. We try so hard to hide our brokenness, or feel guilty for it, and yet it’s right there where God is. God is…loving, understanding, creating, working, healing – in the midst of all our broken pieces. Broken…yet held in Love that will never leave us or despise us.

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