Broken Things

I seem to accumulate broken things. Things I have purchased for next to nothing because they were broken. There is the ceramic tile of poppies that I bought while on vacation. I loved it from across the room and was delighted to find a price tag of $5.00 on it. It had two hairline cracks running through it, but they don’t show and I’m the only one who knows, (until now).

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There is the ancient rocker I picked up for $2 at an auction. The seat was shredded and it was missing one of the slats from the curved back, but I thought I could make it presentable again. I think the missing slat looks like it was part of the design and I have recovered the seat. It is one of my favorite chairs.

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There is another rocker with a missing seat that waits patiently in the basement for me to make it functional again. I mended the broken cross piece and gave it a fresh coat of paint.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time you know about my grandmother’s chair that I rescued from certain destruction. You can read about it here.

There are the wooden chairs with missing seats that I painted and have used year after year to put summer flowers in.IMG_0864_edited-1

 

My father’s violin had some cracks that needed repairing. When I took it to John Hawkins, a man skilled in such things, I also bought a violin for my son that John had saved from being thrown in the trash. A junior high boy had stepped on it in his haste to get somewhere quickly. It was basically in splinters, but he was determined to bring it back from the dead. My son played it until he outgrew it. Now it is waiting for his daughter to use once her fingers are big enough.

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We live in a society that throws things away. We want new and perfect. Fewer and fewer people repair things anymore.

Unfortunately our insisting on perfection spreads to not just things, but circumstances and people.

We want the perfect job, perfect church, perfect house, perfect parents, perfect husband, perfect children, and perfect friends. It they aren’t perfect we look for a different one. What we fail to see in our search for perfection is the beauty that lies in the broken things. They are still useful, they have lived through hard circumstances, and the scars they have acquired make them more beautiful, not less.

Living through imperfect circumstances makes us better people. Living with difficult people makes us kinder. Living with things that need attention and care make us more thankful for what we have. Going to a church with other sinners reminds us of our own lack and makes us grateful that they don’t ask us to leave, since we are far from perfect, ourselves.

God uses these imperfect things in our lives to help knock off the things in our own lives that need sanding down. (Sandblasting might be a better term.) Thankfully he doesn’t just give us a coat of paint or some glue, He works on us from the inside out. He works on our very heart.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials; knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

Did you catch that? “that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” We are all a work in progress. We don’t always like the “construction” that is going on, but it has a good purpose in our lives.

Remember that the next time you want to give up on someone who is difficult to be around. Give them the grace we have been given. Learn from them. Love them like our Father loves us. Treat them like the treasure they are.

“And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” I John 4:32-5:1

 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness. We all want it, but have a hard time giving it to others.

I’ve been working several months on a book on forgiveness. It simply refuses to be written. I’ve started again and again. So today I decided to include you in the struggle. I’m going to put bits and pieces up here until I finish the job. Knowing you are looking over my shoulder might give me the kick in the pants I need to persevere.

Comments and suggestions are welcome.

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We need to start at the beginning.

It nearly broke His heart. This man and woman God had created decided to believe Satan instead of God. They did the one thing God commanded them not to do, ate of the fruit of the only tree off limits.  Satan made Eve doubt God’s goodness. Made her think God was selfish. That He was keeping something good away from them. Satan deceived her into thinking he had her bests interests at heart. It was all a lie.

Eve gave some of the fruit to her husband and the rest is history. He chose her over God. The thought of losing her was too overwhelming. And then they hid. What else could they do? The shame and guilt were destroying them.

God sought them out. Gave them a chance to explain. Their explanation consisted of blaming each other, Satan, even God. Yes, Adam said…”this woman whom you gave to be with me…” (Genesis 3:12) Do you hear the not so subtle tone in his voice?

And so the perfect world was ruined. They were expelled from the garden, never to return. But God didn’t leave them without hope. He promised a Savior who would one day bring redemption, forgiveness. Things would be restored.

Satan thought he had won…but God’s plans are always bigger. Forgiveness would be a  reoccurring theme from now on. Satan, who was beyond forgiveness, would continue to cause all the trouble he could. The F word (forgiveness) would make him scream with anger. It must not happen. The redemption must not be complete. And so the battle continued.

Genesis 2:7 – 3:24

 

 

You’re Going the Wrong Way!

This week I found myself going the wrong way on a one-way street. I realized my mistake almost immediately, but was committed to the path I was on. There was no way to turn around. I waited at the red light hoping it would turn quickly to green and I could navigate in the right direction before too many people noticed what I had done. Needless to say I got angry gestures, yelling and honked horns from three different cars who thought I must be the stupidest person alive. As I tried to remain calm and not make eye contact, I wanted to tell them…

“I know I am going the wrong way! It was a mistake! I’m trying to readjust my path!”

Even if I could have talked to them I don’t think it would have mattered. I had inconvenienced them and their plans. I was in their way. I was doing what they would NEVER do. I was going the wrong way on a one-way street.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. How often have I been critical of someone who has gotten on the wrong path? Do I draw attention to their error by blasting my spiritual horn at them? Do I take into account their circumstances before I give them a self-righteous talking to? Do I give them anything but the grace they might need? Just like I needed grace to get out of the one-way street. Often people who have gotten off track need the grace of those around them to readjust their path.

How much better to not draw attention to their sin, but rather pray privately for them. Looking for an opportunity to come along side. Not looking for an opportunity to spread gossip, but looking for an opportunity to tell them you understand, and that we all need grace from time to time, if not daily.

So the horn blowing and yelling I got this week was not in vain. Hopefully it made me a more gracious forgiver of those around me. Realizing that I need as much grace as they do. That time and again God has shown me more grace than I deserve.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you,” Ephesians 4:31-32

For further study: Look up the words – bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice.  Look up the words – kind, tender-hearted, forgiving. Which group of words most describes who I am? 

(This article was originally posted at Biblical Counseling for Women.)

The God Who Forgives

Here it is the start of another year. There is hope for a fresh start, a new beginning. To do better at life than I did last year. But there are old doubts. Can I really begin again?  Can God possibly love and forgive me after what I’ve done?

The simple truth is…”If God doesn’t speak to me in my darkest sin, He doesn’t speak to me at all.” Either he is a God who loves even the most vile sinner and longs for them to turn to him or he doesn’t care for any sinner and will condemn us all to hell.

His love is way beyond anything we can imagine and so we imagine his love is like ours. “Fragile, weak and conditional.”

We love those who are kind to us. God loves those who hate him.

We love those who are worthy of our love. None of us are worthy of God’s love.

We love those who we have the energy to love. God loves with a passion that takes our breath away. It is an unending wellspring of love for the people he has created for one purpose only…to love and serve Him.

And yet we put limits on the limitless God.  We say, “I have gone too far. He can’t possibly forgive this offense. I have sinned too often. He will not forgive me yet again.”

But we forget that he is the good shepherd who leaves the 99 righteous persons to seek and save the lost one. (Luke 15:4-7)

We forget that he loved people like David who were guilty of sexual immorality, betrayal and murder.

We forget he loved the extremely wicked city of Ninevah enough to send a reluctant prophet to preach them the gospel. Jonah tried to get out of the assignment, but God insisted, and the entire city from least to greatest had the nerve to repent. (Jonah 3:1-10)

Such a heart of forgiveness this God has. So at the beginning of this year I bring my past failures to him. I seek His power in changing who I am. I determine to set my eyes on my only hope. The grace and forgiveness of a God who loves me in spite of who I am.