Saturday, May 31, 2014

For Those Who Are Broken

I always wanted to be a pristine vase, a treasure sitting on the shelf, perfect and without blemish, useful for holding beautiful flower arrangements to enhance the moment and decorate the table. But I have cracks. I didn’t want the cracks. I never asked for the cracks. But there they are.

The Broken Vase

They distort my smooth finish. They distract from my flowing curves. They draw attention away from the purpose for which I was made. To some they devalue me.
On the day I fell, in the time it took for me to roll off the table and hit the floor, I imagined the end had come. My usefulness was over. All that was left was for the broom to whisk me into the dust pan and from the dust pan deposited into the trash can. A lot can go through your mind in a short space of time.

But instead of the briskly strokes of the coarse straw, gentle hands carefully picked up each broken piece and placed me again on the table. I was complete but undone. Glue was applied to my jagged edges and meaningless fragments rejoined to make me whole again.
Soon after the glue set, I was back enhancing the table, holding the flowers, beautifying the moment, but now there is more. Now I live as a testimony of how brokenness can be healed, how regret can be rescued, how usefulness can be restored. Each crack tells the story.

I will never be pristine again. Who needs pristine when you can be used to tell others the answer to the prayer for wholeness. I show the scars of grace, the evidence of mercy, the glue of love that holds me together. And in this I will rejoice!
My broken life demonstrates the compassion and purpose of One who declares me worth the effort it took for restoration. My cracks are not a reflection of my faults. They are a message of hope to all who are shattered.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ragamuffin Faith

I guess it’s the romantic in me but I want happy endings. I’ll watch a movie or read a book or deal with a problematic life situation anticipating the moment all the loose ends to get tied up and the crisis is resolved. That’s why I don’t particularly like Nicolas Sparks novels/movies because one of the main characters is going to die. That’s not how I want the story to end.

The movie Ragamuffin: the Story of Rich Mullins, just came out. I enjoyed Rich’s music back in the 80’s and 90’s. In fact, the boys and I went to a concert in Las Vegas a couple of years before he died and considered it one of the best we had or have ever attended. The variety and quality of the music was incredible.

But the movie was about his life—a very hard, emotionally dysfunctional, substance controlling life. He had a father who pushed him away and gave him haunting, negative messages that he could never get away from. He became a binge drinker, who even after a concert would go back to the hotel room and waste himself.

His brother, being interviewed in the extra material on the DVD, said he had been questioned about all the smoking, drinking and cussing in the film. He said that was Rich—always fighting his demons.
Yet, in the midst of all the emptiness that surrounded him, he wrote some of the most incredible songs—Our God is an Awesome God, Give Your Praise to the Lord, Hold Me Jesus.

As I watched the move, I kept waiting for the happy ending. The moment when he fully embraced how much God loved him and broke free from the chains. It never came. He died still struggling. I’ve yet to get over that. I wanted him released. I wanted the testimony of victory. I wanted the power of God to overcome. I wanted that for him and wanted it for me.

You see, often, we who struggle with accepting God’s forgiveness and love, try to live out our hope of a happy ending in the lives of others. Somehow, our gnawing disappointments get soothed when we vicariously see others resolve their struggles. After watching Rich, I’m still waiting.

If I cannot embrace the truth, maybe seeing someone else do it can give me hope that one day my happy ending will come. That what God has done for others, He’ll do for me.

So, I will repeat what I have told myself thousands of times: God loves me, I am forgiven, He has accepted me, He doesn’t create junk, He will accomplish what concerns me, nothing can separate me from God’s love for me.

A Ragamuffin is one who desperately trusts God whether or not they ever get their happy ending. Today, I declare myself a Ragamuffin.