When country music legend Merle Haggard composed “A Place to Fall Apart” it was an instant hit. As the story goes, while struggling through a marriage breakup Merle wrote a letter to his ex-wife he never intended to send. Merle was simply expressing his feelings through a letter, but the words he penned later became lyrics to his hit song. Clearly, Merle had struck a common chord in the hearts of those listening. People connected to the down to earth reality of human brokenness alongside a longing to bring our bewilderment and pain into a safe place of healing. “I’m looking for a place to fall apart”, sings Merle. Though this unsent letter did well to unmask the pain I wonder what the church might have to do with the safe place so many are looking for.
While some may think church to be a place for those who have their life neatly held together it’s more accurately a community who have recognized their lives have already fallen apart. A place for those who realize we just aren’t good or smart enough to fix all the problems in our life. More importantly, it’s a community that freely admits our lives have fallen apart precisely because Jesus has become our “safe place” who brings new life. Jesus put it like this, “You’re blessed when you recognize you are spiritually bankrupt, heaven belongs to people like you!” The Bible records many who would seem to be the last in line for heaven but were first up to receive the good news: a divorced woman at a well, a socially rejected tax collector, a prostitute, a thief, unfaithful spouse, and more. Incredibly, the more broken a life, the more readily the pretence of self-sufficiency is dropped. We can just get on with accepting God’s outrageous grace. Those who encountered Jesus trusted Him to breathe new life into their brokenness; they had found their safe place to fall apart. So, how should this now be reflected in the culture of the church today?
As a pastor, I readily admit the church doesn’t get all the steps right when it comes to following the pattern of love Jesus offered. For that I’m truly sorry. We are a community of amateur lovers learning how to have all our life reshaped by the life-giving love we’ve found with Jesus. But that’s not the whole story. Somehow, mysteriously at times, God continues to grow a community marked by His character: A safe place of grace, forgiveness, healing, and growth. Each follower of Christ is therefore called to reflect the kind of unprecedented levels of love God offers us. It’s a movement God Himself thought worth dying for, so we would share in this new life together. That’s the church, the community each are invited to a part of. And, it’s good news for all those who are looking for a place to fall apart.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
“Looking For A Place To Fall A-part
Trying To Find A Place That I Can Leave My Heart
I Need To Be Somewhere Hidin’ When I Feel The Teardrops Start
Lookin’ For A Place To Fall A-part”
Merle Haggard, Lyrics to “A Place to Fall Apart
 Matthew 5:3.