Saturday, March 7, 2009

Don't Throw Away the Broken Ones!

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
—Psalm 34:18

“Hurry! Help me clean up! They’ll be here in just a few minutes.”
It was 8:50 a.m. on a Thursday morning, and it was my turn to host our monthly play date. With only ten minutes to spare before our guests arrived, I was frantically cleaning the house, picking up toys, and making sure everything was ready for our friends. (In hindsight, this seems a rather silly thing to do. Why on earth would I straighten up before a dozen kids came over to pull out and play with every toy we own? But I digress.)

I had given my two-year-old and five-year-old some construction paper and crayons and told them to draw pictures while I busied myself with baking muffins and brewing coffee. Now that the food was ready and the downstairs was clean (meaning, I hid all the clutter in the laundry room), it was time to head upstairs and straighten the kids’ game room.

As I rounded the corner on the stairs, I was pleased to see my younger two children still sitting at the coffee table, happily coloring away. I even remember breathing a quick prayer of gratitude: Thank You, Lord, that they’re getting along so well this morning! (Those of you with more than one child know that this is a small miracle in itself.)

And then . . . I saw the rest of the picture.

Apparently, there is an unwritten rule among preschoolers that goes something like this: In order to find precisely the right color in this large container of crayons, I must dump all of the crayons onto the table and then dig through the pile, flinging unwanted crayons at random on the ground until I find exactly the color I need.

Which brings me to my opening statement. “Hurry! Help me clean up!”

I told the kids to put all the crayons back in the box, while I grabbed a trash can and started tossing the half-drawn pictures and peeled-off crayon wrappers (why do kids always take off the wrappers?), along with the broken bits of crayon rubble under the table.

“Wait! Stop!” my daughter said suddenly, grabbing my hand in mid-toss. “Don’t throw away the broken ones!” She seemed genuinely distraught.

“It’s okay, honey,” I assured her, grabbing another handful of broken crayons in my haste to clean the area. “You have plenty of crayons. You don’t need these.” Another handful, another toss into the trash. Okay, we’re almost done now . . .

“No, Mom, please don’t!” she pleaded, reaching into the trash to recover the ones I had tossed. “I really want these colors. I can still use them. Don’t throw them away!”
I paused for a moment, weighing my desire to finish cleaning the room with her desire to keep the broken crayons.

Then, with a resigned sigh, I reached into the trash can, pulled out all the broken ones, and helped her put them back in the box.

Have you ever felt like one of those broken crayons? Maybe you feel that you, too, have been torn apart and discarded in a pile of broken pieces. Or perhaps you think you are no longer useful or valuable. Every one of us knows what it’s like to experience hurt, disappointment, loneliness, loss, failure, rejection—in other words, to be broken.

This time of year seems filled with wholeness and hope. All around us, we see the springtime signs of new beginnings, fresh blooms, young love, dreams of graduation and a bright future. And as Christians, we eagerly anticipate the most joyous celebration in our faith—Resurrection Sunday, the certain hope of Christ’s once-and-for-all triumph over death and the promise of eternal life.

Yet for those of us who are hurting, Easter can be one of many dreaded reminders of our own brokenness. When we think of Easter Sunday, we envision churches filled with picture-perfect moms and dads with arms around their smiling, adorably dressed children, giving thanks to God for their blessed, happy lives.

But what about those of us whose lives aren’t like that picture? Those of us with broken relationships, broken dreams, and broken hearts . . .

Is there a place for us, the broken ones?

The answer to that question is a resounding yes! Easter is not a showcase of people with unbroken lives; it’s a celebration of those of us with mended ones.

In his classic sermon “Hope for Broken Things,” evangelist Billy Graham explains that whatever is broken—be it our hearts, our homes, or our lives—God will restore us and give us true peace if we turn our lives over to Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The hope of Easter is this—God can take what is broken and make it whole.

Now, that doesn’t mean that following Christ is a guarantee that the rest of your life here on earth will be picture-perfect and problem-free. Far from it! But it does mean that no matter where you are, no matter what you have done, you can put your faith in a Savior whose body was broken on the cross for you, so that you could be made whole (1 Corinthians 11:24).

You can take the broken pieces of your life and entrust them to the One who came “to bind up the brokenhearted . . . to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve . . . a crown of beauty instead of ashes” (Isaiah 61:1–3).

You can experience the comfort of a Redeemer who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

And this Easter, you can celebrate a God who says, “I really want you. I can still use you. Don’t stay there in your pain and hurt! Let Me mend your broken pieces and make a beautiful masterpiece with your life.”

**This article appears in the March/April 2009 issue of Haslet Style.

1 comment:

  1. Jen, God has truly blessed you in so many ways. From your writing, to how your children are like little messengers from Him... I love reading your work and wish you'd post more!!!