Food For Thought: We Are All Scarecrows (Meditation on Ephesians 2:1-5)

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“Man Carving His Own Destiny”
Albin Polasek
Brookgreen Gardens
Photo by Russell Smith

First the bad news: we’re all scarecrows.

Not the cute “Wizard of Oz” kind of scarecrow, with a winsome song and dance.  Nor the scary “Batman” kind of scarecrow as psychopathic super-villain.

No.  We’re the T.S. Eliot kind of scarecrow:

“We are the hollow men

We are the stuffed men

Leaning together

Headpiece filled with straw.  Alas!

Our dried voices, when

We whisper together

Are quiet and meaningless

As wind in dry grass

Or rats’ feet over broken glass

In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,

Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed

With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom

Remember us – if at all – not as lost

Violent souls, but only

As the hollow men

The stuffed men.”

From “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot

Eliot nailed something about the human condition.  We may not be raging violent souls.  We may not be genius psychopaths or gibbering lunatics.  But there is a hollowness within.  A spiritual deadness.  An inner void.   Until that void is filled, all our efforts, no matter how noble seeming, are but “shape without form, shade without colour, paralysed force, gesture without motion.”

Said another way, we are dead.  Oblivious to our need for new life.  “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1)

Or said another way: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  (William Shakespeare, Macbeth)

If that were the whole story, then we would have cause to despair – for we’d all just be a bunch of bozos on a bus riding off to oblivion.

“But God, who is rich in mercy …”

There’s the turning point:  “But God….”   John Stott once suggested that those two words might well summarize the truth about why Christianity is good news.

We are dead … But God…

We are a mess … But God…

The world is a swirling puddle of dysfunction … But God…

“But God…” tells us that in the midst of our helplessness, apathy, and ennui, God takes action.  God moves while we are languishing.

God makes us alive.

“But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions.”  (Ephesians 2:4-5)

The scarecrow is made alive.  The wooden puppet becomes a real boy.  The velveteen rabbit becomes a living creature.  Not because they have carved their own destiny, but because of the love of the one who makes things alive.

That’s the good news.  We’re dead, but God makes us alive.

One thought on “Food For Thought: We Are All Scarecrows (Meditation on Ephesians 2:1-5)

  1. Beautifully written and inspiring, Russell. ‘Love the imagery of the scarecrow, Pinnochio, and the velveteen rabbit being made alive by love. Praise our loving God who is with us, for us, and in us, giving abundant life through Jesus!

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