Gracefully Broken

“Here I am, God
Arms wide open
Pouring out my life
Gracefully broken” (Matt Redman).

The prayer from tonight’s Kairos went something like this: Lord, into your hands I commit my brokenness.

That’s a good prayer for those of us who know that we are broken. After all, all of us are broken, but it’s more apparent in some. Not all of us are quite ready to admit it.

Some hide it and pretend it isn’t there.

Some make light of it and pretend that it doesn’t matter.

Some will act as if there’s nothing wrong with it the way it is.

The best way is to acknowledge it and give the pieces to Jesus.

There’s a kind of Japanese pottery called Kintsugi that takes broken vessels and mends them, using lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold. That way the cracks and imperfections aren’t hidden, but rather enhanced.

Rather than seeing beauty as flawless perfection, they see it as something that emerges out of a long history of suffering and survival.

Scars are what happens when the wounds of our broken places heal. Again, some will try to hide their scars and pretend they don’t exist.

My favorite writer, the one these blog posts are named after, one said, “On the last day, Jesus will look us over not for medals, diplomas, or honors, but for scars” (Brennan Manning).

Jesus chose to keep His scars in His resurrected body. He ascended into heaven with them. That says something about the honor and beauty of scars.

One quote from Kairos that stood out to me also came from an unlikely (at least to me) source, Ernest Hemingway. He said, “The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”

I like that.

Brokenness and scars not only can become beautiful, but in the nail-scarred hands of Jesus, they are beautiful.

PS Much of the credit for this blog post goes to Chris Brooks, Kairos pastor, and to the good folks at Google for providing the information on Kintsugi that I “borrowed.” It’s a good thing this isn’t a term paper, or I’d be in serious trouble.

 

Refiner’s Fire

I can think of no better illustration of what it means to be refined under God’s hand until we start to resemble our Maker than the following:

“One day we took the children to see a goldsmith refine gold after the ancient manner of the East. He was sitting beside his little charcoal fire. (‘He shall sit as a refiner’; the gold- or silversmith never leaves his crucible once it is on the fire.)

In the red glow lay a common curved roof tile; another tile covered it like a lid. This was the crucible. In it was the medicine made of salt, tamarind fruit and burnt brick dust, and imbedded in it was the gold.

The medicine does its appointed work on the gold, ‘then the fire eats it,’ and the goldsmith lifts the gold out with a pair of tongs, lets it cool, rubs it between his fingers, and if not satisfied puts it back again in fresh medicine.

This time he blows the fire hotter than it was before, and each time he puts the gold into the crucible, the heat of the fire is increased; ‘it could not bear it so hot at first, but it can bear it now; what would have destroyed it then helps it now.’

‘How do you know when the gold is purified?’ we asked him, and he answered, ‘When I can see my face in it [the liquid gold in the crucible] then it is pure’” (Amy Carmichael, Gold Cord).

When God sees His face in us, then we shall be pure.

“Like a refiner of silver,
    He will purify the descendants of Levi—
Until they are pure, unalloyed gold and silver.
    Then they will draw near to the Eternal One,
Presenting offerings with righteous, clean hands” (Malachi 3:3, The Voice)

 

Lessons from The Bishop’s Wife

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I wonder how many of us are already overwhelmed by the prospect of buying all those Christmas gifts. Maybe you’re stressing about what to give that certain person who is so hard to buy for. Or maybe you don’t know how you’ll manage to find the time to buy and wrap all those presents and still manage to get everything else done.

I think I have an idea.

Maybe the gift you really need to be concerned about is the main gift you’ll ever give. As the main character in the movie The Bishop’s Wife says, “We’ve remembered everybody except one — that child born in a manger so long ago.” What will we give Him?

Talk about hard to buy for! This child, Jesus, already owns it all. The cattle on a thousand hills? Already got it. All the gold in Fort Knox? Already His.

So what can you give Jesus this year?

Maybe the best present you can give is to be present to Jesus. Maybe the best gift you can give is you. Not your time or your money or your best intentions, but you.

In other words, what Jesus wants more than anything from you this Christmas is your surrendered heart. What He desires is every part of you– the good, the bad, the ugly, all of it.

The good news is that no matter how badly you’ve screwed your life up, Jesus still wants it. No matter how much of a mess you’ve made of you, Jesus still wants you, just as you are right now. Not as you could be, but as you are in this very moment.

The better news (or maybe even the best news of all) is that Jesus takes you as you are but refuses to leave you that way. He promised to help you become every bit of who He made you to be. And it’s never too late in this lifetime to be all that God made you to be.

So that’s one less present you have to worry about, right?

My Progress Update

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“Faith is the assurance of things you have hoped for, the absolute conviction that there are realities you’ve never seen” (Hebrews 11:1)

For those who are new to this blog or who haven’t been keeping up, I’ve been reading through the Bible in The Voice translation this year. I really like it so far, especially the way it translates Christ as “the Anointed One.” I also like the modern yet faithful wording.

I’ve made it all the way to 2 Peter, which means I don’t have far to go. Just 6 more books. I suppose I’m a bit ahead of schedule. I figure I’ll be done before July 1, the midway point of the year.

I’ll give you a taste of what I’ve been reading lately:

Blessed is God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! Because He has raised Jesus the Anointed from death, through His great mercy we have been reborn into a living hope— reborn for an eternal inheritance, held in reserve in heaven, that will never fade or fail. Through faith, God’s power is standing watch, protecting you for a salvation that you will see completely at the end of things. You should greatly rejoice in what is waiting for you, even if now for a little while you have to suffer various trials. Suffering tests your faith which is more valuable than gold (remember that gold, although it is perishable, is tested by fire) so that if it is found genuine, you can receive praise, honor, and glory when Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, is revealed at last.

Although you haven’t seen Jesus, you still love Him. Although you don’t yet see Him, you do believe in Him and celebrate with a joy that is glorious and beyond words. You are receiving the salvation of your souls as the result of your faith” (1 Peter 1: 3-9).

I think that says it all.

I

So Tired 2: 😴

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I’m tired again. Funny how that happens every 24 hours or so. Especially when you’re working and meeting friends to go walking on beautiful Monday evenings. Not to mention pinning useless but fun items to Pinterest.

It’s a good kind of tired. It’s a grateful kind of tired. The kind where as exhausted as you are, you’re more grateful at the new opportunities you have.

For me, it’s like an adventure. Maybe not a Tolkien kind with dragons and gold at the end, but new places and new people and paychecks at the end. And just once, it would be so cool to get paid in gold. Just once.

The verse in Psalms says that God gives rest to those He loves. I’m glad it’s worded that way, not to those who love Him. Some days, I’m crazy in love with God and some days I’m apathetic and could care less (which is probably redundant and repititious, right?) Sleep goes to the ones God loves because it’s His love for us holding us together and keeping us going, not the other way around.

So good night, all you out there in La-La-Land. May you find sweet dreams and rest as only your Abba could grant them.

An Exciting New Adventure

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“There is absolutely no experience, however terrible, or heartbreaking, or unjust, or cruel, or evil, which you can meet in the course of your earthly life, that can harm you if you but let Me teach you how to accept it with joy; and to react to it triumphantly as I did myself, with love and forgiveness and with willingness to bear the results of wrong done by others. Every trial, every test, every difficulty and seemingly wrong experience through which you may have to pass, is only another opportunity granted to you of conquering an evil thing and bringing out of it something to the lasting praise and glory of God.” ― Hannah HurnardMountains of Spices

I feel a bit like Bilbo Baggins.

For those of you who aren’t nerds, Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who is very much a homebody until Gandalf the great wizard invites him to be a part of a great adventure involving dwarfs and gold and dragons. If you want more info, read The Hobbit.

My temp assignment ended today, leaving me unemployed. Part of me is excited at the prospect of what God has in store for me. Part of me is scared in such a way that I won’t have to go to the bathroom for a while. Catch my drift?

God has a proven track record in my life. Up to this point, He has yet to fail me or let me down. True, His answers may not come when I want or look like what I expected, but they are always greater, not less, than what I dreamed.

The upside is that I can sleep in tomorrow. I have a bit of free time to hang out if you so desire. The downside is that I will be broke soon.

This could be a prime opportunity to panic. I choose instead to see it as a test of faith and another arena for God to once again prove Himself faithful. Did I mention that I’m a “glass half full” kind of guy?

More exciting installments of my new adventure to follow.

My Modest Plans for Saturday

OK. I admit it. My weekly trip to downtown Franklin didn’t pan out like I thought it would. Blame the cold and rainy weather. I had every intention of continuing my quest to Frothy Monkey, but the chill breeze and the cold rain dissuaded me rather quickly.

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I did get a very good bowl of fire-roasted veggie soup from McCreary’s Irish Pub out of the night, so it wasn’t a total loss. 

My tentative plans for Saturday are as follows:

1) Not getting up at 5 am. I cannot emphasize strongly enough how this will not happen.

2) Going to McKay’s Used Books and doing some more wheeling and dealing, i.e. hoping and praying they will take everything I’m offering in trade and give me top dollar for my loot.

3) Going to the super bargain matinee at Thoroughbred Cinemas in Franklin to see Hunger Games 2, better known as Catching Fire. 

4) Getting in some sun and a little exercise (unless it rains, then it’s on to plan B).

5) Figuring out what my plan B will be if it rains.

Again, these plans are subject to change, based on weather and possible better offers coming my way. If you’re nearby, you are certainly welcomed to join me in any or all of my adventures, none of which involve slaying any dragons or looking for any lost dwarfish gold or anything that would cause you to miss dinner.