From Broken to Beautiful
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)
Three days ago, I stuffed my Grandmother’s childhood dresser so full that when I pulled the second drawer open, it nearly crumbled to pieces. Thinking it was irreparable, my heart sank to the floor, along with the outpouring of socks, t-shirts and other random contents.
Justin, my sweet fiancé, entered the room Friday evening. He took one look at my dresser and said, “I can fix it.” He spent the entire morning on Saturday running errands to get wood glue, clamps, and whatever else one needs to fix a piece of antique wooden furniture.
Late last night, after bonding for nearly two full days, he brought the drawer to my room. It was as good as new. Perhaps even better. The replacement parts coupled with the strong adhesive breathed fresh new life into my old wooden friend.
So many times in life we simply break. A hurtful word from a well-meaning friend. An unkind gesture from a stranger. A day of giving with no receiving anywhere in sight. It can wear a body down. Yet…
There is always a friend that wishes to fix our broken spirit. To breathe life into our exhausted lungs. To replace, replenish and resource that which was once a whole heart, but somewhere along the way, was tragically shattered in two.
Justin’s gesture of lovingly fixing what I broke is a stark reminder that Jesus is humbly waiting for me to reach out. No matter the situation. No matter the time of day. No matter how deeply, sorely and completely I have messed things up. He wants to fix the situation. He wants to fix me. To make me stronger, better able to function than ever before, able to withstand the pressures and stresses of life. He wants to repair, replace and rejuvenate this weary old soul into something new, beautiful, functional, grateful and full of purpose.
Jesus wants to clean the dirty, tired, no longer usable contents from the remnants of my being and lovingly bond me together again. A new work, a fresh spirit and a stronger vessel to wisely hold the most precious contents my heart could conceive. Just like my treasured antique dresser, this old soul often needs cleansing of the old junk, adhesive to bring the walls back together and bonding time to heal, replenish and renew. From broken to beautiful, Jesus specializes in turning battles to blessings, if only we seek His gentle, loving and healing hand.
“…and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” (Isaiah 61:3 NIV)
Nehemiah 6:2-3 2Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.” But they were scheming to harm me; 3so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?”
The gaps in the wall around Jerusalem were filled, and the work was nearing completion. The workers were worn out, but they still had to hang the gates. The enemies tried one last desperate attempt to stop them. If they could pull their leader away from the city, they could kill him. Then they stood a much better chance of attacking the city and reopening the walls. After four invitations failed, they tried treachery. They sent an unsealed letter that declared that Nehemiah intended to make himself a king and revolt against Persia. They thought for sure that Nehemiah would come defend himself, but Nehemiah saw through their schemes. Finally, they hired prophets to lie and counselors to cause Nehemiah to fear. Remember that the hand of God is upon Nehemiah. That makes all the difference.
Those in leadership in your church are often tempted when the work is nearing completion. It is then that they are most tempted with pride, most vulnerable to invitations from the enemy. Lies are just another tactic of the enemy to discourage and defeat the leader. The devil is the father of lies. When all else fails, the enemy will inspire those from within to cause you to fear or invite you to sin. Pray for your leaders, especially when the work is going well. Pray that the hand of God be upon them to give them discernment. Pray that they will see through the plans of the enemy and not yield. Pray that they will see the great work they are doing and refuse to “come down.” Encourage them to stick it out until the work God has for them is completed.
Remember to pray for them that their hands will be strengthened for the work.
No ‘Sour Grapes’ Excuses
by Doug Stringer, crosswalk.com
As children, we all had a tendency to excuse our own bad behaviors, or to project or shift blame when we were caught doing something we shouldn’t have been doing. It’s only with maturity that we become willing to accept responsibility for our own actions. As a mentor and friend, the late Dr. Edwin Louis Cole, used to say, “Maturity is not based on age, but on the willingness to accept responsibility.”
I believe it is a lifelong challenge to decide which choices we will make and what our character will be when we are confronted with our own frailty. We all make mistakes, but what do we do after that mistake has been brought to light? If we are honest with God and with ourselves, we can grow in maturity in those moments. Or, like children, we can try to shift blame to someone or something else.
In my early years of ministry, I was intrigued with the meaning and correlation of the following scriptures:
Jeremiah 31:29-30: “In those days they shall say no more: The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”
Ezekiel 18:2: “What do you mean when you use this proverb… ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?”
For the sake of brevity, I won’t attempt to go line upon line explaining all the surrounding verses that provide the context for these scriptures, though I would encourage you to take the time to read the full chapters.
That being said, I think Ezekiel 18:19-20 gives a good paraphrase of the point being made:
“Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?’ Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and done them, he shall surely live . . . The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”
In other words, we cannot justify, rationalize, excuse or project our own actions or sins upon others. The choices I make cannot be justified because of my parents, or my childhood circumstances, or my past. I cannot change my past, but the decisions I make each day determine my future. Yes, I may have had some challenging and difficult times growing up. Yes, society may try to tell us that we can’t help who we are because we’ve come from a dysfunctional family or difficult circumstances. Yes, there may have been sour grapes along the way, yet the decisions I make each day cannot be excused by the past. As a new creature in Christ, I’m not bound by the actions of others. Regardless of past relationships or circumstances, we are all responsible for our own actions.
When I was in the fitness business, there was a quote often used: “Success requires no apologies and failure permits no alibis.” The quote is from author Napoleon Hill. His words can be applied to just about any facet of our life’s journey. Regardless of my heritage, where I was born, my parents, background, or any other circumstance in life, I do not have to be limited by them. The choices are mine. And Scripture reminds us that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.