‘You’re my servant, serving on my side. I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’ Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.
Isaiah 41:10, The Message
My parents gave me a treasure chest for my fortieth birthday. Truly ... a treasure chest. Inside a beautiful antique round-top Victorian steamer trunk from New Zealand were packets and containers of keepsakes and memories, personal heirlooms and delicate reminiscences of the previous forty years. The first packet I opened contained something that took my breath away; I could barely concentrate as we opened the rest of the treasures and I held this ‘sacrament’ in my fist . . .
When my parents were in New Zealand, I was their only successful pregnancy though they really wanted a second child. So they started an adoption. I remember going to the hospital to see the baby and how excited my mother was; I even got to help name him. But then ... it didn't work out. It was neither because the birth mother backed out nor because the adoption agency left out some important detail, as both are sadly common. It was because when my dad returned to the United States on furlough, he realized that we would not be able to financially continue to stay in New Zealand.
So dad had to come home to NZ and tell us that not only were we moving back to North America three years before we planned – but that we were going to have to let another family take that child. I have always prayed that that little boy grew up with a big sister as good as I would have been to him and parents as wonderful as mine.
Thirty-five years later, my mother gave me the rattle I had bought for the little guy. I had saved my pennies for it, so she tucked it away and returned it to me when I turned forty, a jewel out of a treasure chest, a sacrament of sorts. I put it in my car so I could see it often and remember and say a pray for him.
I am also very thankful that a fine "little brother" and dear friend just happened to be in the car with me when I yanked the emergency break down and it came down right on top of that precious rattle, breaking it in half. I am glad that he was familiar with the history of that sacrament, understood the significance and was un-surprised and sensitive when I burst into tears. The implication of a little sacrament breaking in two was not at all lost on him. So a bit later when I dropped him off at home, he said something profoundly simple and not at all meant insensitively as he put his head back into the car. With a tiny tear in his eye he said, “Things break, Anj," smiled gently, and walked away.
Even though in my religious background I have been taught that "things" don't matter and it's "all gonna burn" anyway, I have also been taught a greater truth about things. There will be some sacraments, physical things that help me remember when God is uniquely active, and this is a wonderful gift. A truly helpful gift and one that I seem to lose as I get older. I realize as I age that it is nice to keep "things" around so that there IS a physical reminder of important events. But as mentioned, these are PHYSICAL things. We can guard them best we can but things can still happen. They can still break.
But you know I am not speaking of a rattle here. I am speaking not only of those physical reminders, but of God's activity in life. That simple little thing wasn't broken for a particular purpose.
But I was.
The world can often dislike broken people, but God takes joy in using broken things. God necessitates that WE are broken before He can even begin to use us. Ouch. But that is okay, right? Because .... except we submit ourselves to the foot of the cross, someday we will be condemned for our sins. You already know this, I know. And you also know that we must come to the edge of ourselves to come to Jesus.
The brilliant Helen Keller said,“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.” I'm sure you don't like to see physical things that are important to you up and break. And you probably don't fancy being spiritually "broken" either. I sure don't. But when we break, the last thing we need to do is keep staring at that closed door, wishing it were ajar and not looking around to notice the other "door" -- and one that is wide open. Jesus said,
"...anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of." (John 10:9-10)
I thought I'd give that rattle to my own little brother, but I could not have one. Then I thought I'd give it to my own child, but I did not have my own and my adopted boys came to us way to old for rattles. To whom shall I save this super-glued rattle? Either I will save it for a grandchild or maybe I'll just keep it around to remind someone, probably myself, that God is ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS and no matter what ... uniquely active.
How have YOU felt him "uniquely active?" How have YOU seen your life touched mightily by His power through your brokenness?
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