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.

 

My Life is God’s Prayer

“When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you, From Jordan depths to Hermon heights, including Mount Mizar. Chaos calls to chaos, to the tune of whitewater rapids. Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers crash and crush me. Then God promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night! My life is God’s prayer” (Psalm 42:8 MSG)

That’s the kind of rehearsal I really like, remembering everything I know of God and all He’s done for me. Or even better yet, looking back through ages past and seeing how many times in how many places God has come through for His people.

God’s faithfulness trumps my faithlessness. God’s promises outweigh my doubts. Not that I am so bad, but God is so good. Not that I’m so very weak, but God is so very strong.

I could go on and on, but I am really tired. It’s a good kind of tired, but it still leaves me wanting to visit my pillow in the worst way possible.

I’ll be up excruciatingly early on a Saturday, heading over to Belmont University at 6:30 am for Freshman Move-In Day. It’s still in my top favorite activities that I’m involved in over the year.

Yes, you read that right. That’s 6:30 in the AM. A nap will be had later on in the day by me. Then I think there will be the usual frivolity up and down Main Street in Franklin in celebration of surviving a week of waking up at 5:30 am.

“So let my deeds outrun my words
And let my life outweigh my songs” (Jonas Myrin, Matt Redman).

 

Two Words

“Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name” (Matt Redman)

Two words: give thanks.

Give thanks even when you don’t feel like it. Give thanks as a defiant cry against desperate circumstances, in spite of the odds and the naysayers and the dark clouds on your horizon.

Give thanks like empty-handed Job, who in the face of his own wife telling him to curse God and die, with painful boils all over his body, made the declaration: The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

Give thanks when the checks bounce, when the bills are past due, when the rent money is AWOL, when it would be so much easier to throw in the proverbial towel and just give up.

Give thanks when there are no job prospects in sight and when you feel defeated and your life seems to have hit a dead-end. Give thanks even when your dreams and hopes are on life-support.

Give thanks if for no other reason that God is worthy of it. Period. Even if those fig trees are barren and the grapevines have no grapes and the olive trees yield no olives. Give thanks because God is always good and you are always loved.

Just give thanks.

Things I Love 30: That’s The Way Love Goes

island hammock

“Who would ever know the greater graces of comfort and perserverance, mercy and forgiveness, patience and courage, if no shadows fell over a life?” (Ann Voskamp)

“The practice of giving thanks…eucharisteo…this is the way we practice the presence of God, stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes. We don’t have to change what we see. Only the way we see.” (Ann Voskamp)

The big 3-0. That’s how many blogs I’ve written in this series. It seems like only yesterday that I was writing the first one. Actually, it was more like three weeks ago. Maybe four. But here I am yet again, starting out with #871.

871) Still having peace and joy after being defriended on Facebook for no apparent reason (at least none that was given with no chance to correct whatever I did wrong).

872) The comfort of chocolate ice cream.

873) That Aslan is on the move.

874) A surprise visit from a friendly neighborhood cat.

875) Hanging out with my sister when it’s just the two of us, even if it’s at Michael’s.

876) Lucy the Wonder Kitty half-asleep and purring in my lap.

877) Those times when God reminds me gently that He is all I really need.

878) Salted peanuts.

879) Being able to let go and move on.

880) Seeing pictures of my friends John and Michelle’s new baby and knowing she will be loved.

881) The way my old dog Murphy used to sigh with contentment at the end of a long day.

882) Being an Eagle Scout.

883) Adele’s voice.

884) Having a great weekend to look forward to.

885) Not giving a . . . well, crap about what other people think anymore.

886) The tender yet relentless pursuit of the Father for His children (including me).

887) My coffee table book of Ansel Adams photography that I picked up at an estate sale for $5.

888) Red Velvet anything.

889) God using people like the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul.

890) My big book of Vincent Van Gogh artwork.

891) Friends who refuse to give up on other friends.

892) That last bit of sleep just before I have to wake up in the morning.

893) My friend who recently moved to Orlando and who is one of the sweetest kindest people I’ve been blessed to know.

894) Visions of lambs lying down with lions and being unafraid.

895) Red kool-aid. As long as it’s not during VBS.

896) A really good foot massage.

897) Running water, indoor plumbing, and all those other things I take for granted that half the world would love to have.

898) My very swanky Mr. Rogers t-shirt.

899) When I stop trying to define who my neighbor is and start trying to be one.

900) Big Red gum.

901) That I’m down to less than 100 things I love left. Maybe

902) Finding the perfectly random pin on Pinterest.

903) Google Chrome (much more than Internet Explorer).

904) Purple stuff (way more than Tang).

905) 10,000 years to sing of 10,000 reasons to bless the Lord.