Beauty in the Broken Pieces

Beauty in the Broken Pieces

Squeal with delight

His little feet raced from one shell to another. “Here’s one, mommy.” My son reached to put it in my bucket as we walked down the beach. I explained I wanted pretty shells, whole, not the broken ones.

He quickly told me those shells were pretty, too. “Just because they’re broken doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pick them for our collection.”

In Parker’s eyes, all shells were pretty.

Those simple child-uttered words spoke to me.

Do we sometimes see the broken as unlovely, not worth our time? How often do we search for the unblemished, the perfect relationship, the perfect family, the perfect church, the perfect (you fill in the blank).

The reality? Things break. Life is not perfect. No real surprise there, right?  But if we look, we can find beauty and even restoration in the broken.

God sees our hearts

Jesus saw beauty in the broken. It seems He sought them out.

He saw Mary and Martha. He healed the woman with the seven demons as well as the woman who touched the hem of His garment. Jesus saw Zacchaeus. He even invited another tax collector into His inner band of believers. He had compassion for the crowd of 5,000 who needed food.

Long before he came to live on earth, He saw a broken world and made a plan to rescue it and set things right.

Jesus sees beauty and value in us. He sees through our pain, our struggle and our rebellion. Jesus knows our hearts. He sets things right.

He sees beauty in the broken.

Am I still looking for the perfect shell? Yes. But God and a little boy reminded me there is beauty even in the broken pieces.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling,” (Psalm 46:1-3 ESV).

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Stand in the Gap

Stand in the Gap

Squeal with delight

“Is your mom ok?” My friend across the table alerted me to my mom’s condition. Sitting beside her, I looked and immediately caught her as she began to fall. Holding her up, my friend on the other side and I talked to her frantically to keep her conscious as we waited for an ambulance to arrive.

A woman from across the restaurant saw our distress and walked quietly over. “May I pray for her?” We welcomed her whispered interruption. She prayed and we prayed along.

Her exact words escape me, however, I won’t forget her calming presence. My mom slowly became more alert. Thank God. She doesn’t remember much from the experience, just the awareness of the EMT and us talking to her toward the end.

We didn’t know it at the time, but my mom’s blood pressure had dropped dangerously low due to an issue with her medicine. I thank the Lord for His protection and for sending a believer who demonstrated compassion and a willingness to stand in the gap while we waited.

Courage to step out

Today’s world often demonstrates the opposite of this compassion and sensitivity. Many would look on but not take the step to help. This visitor stepped out with courage — away from her own dining experience and priorities that day— to pray over a stranger.

Our encounter reminds me of the parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37.

The Samaritan came upon a traveler left half dead on the road to Jericho. He lifted his battered and bruised body, bandaged his wounds, carried him to an inn and took care of his needs. Other people’s opinions mattered not. He answered the call to lend a hand and do what needed to be done.

Our fellow diner could not help us physically, but she gave what she could. She lifted my mom to the Father, her words comforting our souls.

I don’t know her — I’m sure I thanked her — but I hope she knows how much we appreciate her demonstration of love and care.

Is God calling you to stand in the gap for someone? Do you know somebody who needs comfort? A bandage? An encouraging word? Or a financial gift to help them get by?

Answer the call. Who knows what God will do through you?

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:35-36 NIV).

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Keep Going

Keep Going

Squeal with delight

I thought my life was about to be over.

The excursion was my idea. After all, I’d craved adventure most of my life. But I had no idea the predicament I’d gotten myself into. My goal to see the sunset from the top of the massive granite mountain (Enchanted Rock, in the middle of the Texas Hill Country) seemed impossible after only a third of the way up.

My heart raced and fear took hold when I realized the difficulty of the climb. I reasoned with myself, uncertainty setting in. I don’t know how I’m going to get down.

My 16-year-old son ran and jumped from one boulder to another, loving the climb in this rock paradise. He heard the distress in my voice and stopped long enough to encourage me to keep going. Holding out his hand, he gave me a pull up a time or two.

I continued taking one step after another, over one rock pass to the next until only a smooth rock slope lay ahead. Looking up was the only option. Looking down caused queasiness, so I forced my eyes straight ahead and up.

Alone with God

The task seemed insurmountable. As soon as I hiked far enough to see the horizon, I sat down, frozen in place. My son hiked up the last incline and out of my view. I couldn’t know if he was safe because I remained rooted in my spot.

I watched the sunset but mostly prayed because I doubted my ability to survive the hike down. You probably think I’m being dramatic. My son did. But my fear was as tangible as the rock dome in front of me.

The sun dropped below the horizon. I sat completely alone with my God as I watched the sun’s decline throw pinks and purples against the sky. I half-heartedly thanked Him for the view.

Eventually, I found the courage to stand. (I certainly didn’t want to walk down in the dark.) Taking one step, then another, I weaved my way down inch by inch.

When my feet hit level ground, I looked back at the mountain with a sense of awe and accomplishment. As sure as the shadows deepened from the setting sun, I knew I couldn’t have made it on my own.

Lessons learned

God taught me some things from that experience.

  • Keep going. Do you have an insurmountable task in your life? As my son shouted to me from a distance, I speak those same words to you. “You can do it. Keep going.”
  • God walks or runs and even climbs with you. Take His hand and let Him lead you one step at a time. One rock at a time.
  • Be sure to look forward to the reward at the end and enjoy the adventure. Looking back, I wish I had enjoyed more moments at the top instead of worrying about the journey ahead of me.

This experience reminds me of other challenges in my life. Can I apply these lessons learned to other areas? Absolutely.

I find it interesting and reassuring that God uses distressing situations to inspire us to work on other areas in our lives.

Often, I convince myself I can’t accomplish something because of a lack of discipline. I question God’s calling to this ministry. Will I trust Him and put in the effort to climb to the place He wants me to be? Can I release my worry to Him and enjoy the journey? Do my children see my joy throughout the day, or do they only hear my correction?

You might have similar questions or challenges, or a mountain to conquer. These words speak to us all. Keep going, take God with you and enjoy the adventure.

I thought my life was about over that day. But I found God had so much more in mind.

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Truth Is

Truth Is

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A line in the book Truth Changes Everything by Dr. Jeff Myers resonates with me.

What we believe in the pain is what we really believe.

The timeframe Myers mentions took place during the Bubonic plague in the late Middle Ages. Historians estimate that 75-200 million people died in that pandemic. The survivors had lost mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and friends. Instead of giving up, the survivors rediscovered this ancient biblical truth.

Truth is a living, breathing person – Jesus Christ.

“At the moment when they might have turned away from God, the people of the Late Middle Ages turned toward him,” Myers explains. “They might have sensed that God was far away. Instead, they came to believe that He was right there, suffering with them. They believed in God even when their experiences told them that all hope had been lost.”

What is truth?

Times of pain test our beliefs.

In my deepest pain, I had to decide whether I trusted God or not. I had to decide if what I knew in my head was what I believed in my heart. I had to trust He was who He said He was and what He said was true. At that pivotal point, I told God I would praise Him no matter what happened.

I don’t know or pretend to understand many things. But I have learned that when God seems far away, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The truth is . . .

  • There is HOPE when we put our faith and trust in Jesus. He goes through what we go through. He’s right there, walking through the fire with us. That hope extends beyond the challenges and trials of life. His power can turn our sorrow and pain into hope and joy.

John 15:11 tells us “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full.”

  • There is PEACE when we put our faith and trust in Jesus. Difficult times often show us that God is near. Peace can be found in that nearness. Worry steals our peace. When we release our fears and worries to Him (And leave them there!), He provides peace. He can be trusted to work on our behalf. Peace comes from trusting Him.
  • There is PURPOSE when we put our faith and trust in Jesus. God has a plan for our lives. Someone once told me she was glad God had given me a purpose for my pain. I can assure you that the pain of loss eases over time. I have learned you can get through it with Jesus by your side.

The depth of our faith

God created us with gifts, talents and passions that he wants us to use to bring Him glory. I believe that although we may walk through a season of pain or difficulty, God still has more to accomplish with our lives. He has more joy for us to experience, more dreams to come true and more life to live.

What we believe in the pain shapes how we navigate through it and determines the depth of our faith in God.

We live in a time where people, especially the young, need to be influenced for morals and truth. As we walk through the chaos and uncertainty of this world, we can count on God’s nearness and rest in the truth of His Word. He is the ultimate author of truth.

Anything that is true points back to the source of all truth — God Himself.

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” (John 14:6 NIV).

No matter what happens in our lives, one constant remains. Jesus Christ is the Truth and through Him, we can find hope. We can find peace. And we can find purpose.

Does God seem far away? Seek the truth. Seek Jesus. You can trust Him.

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It would be my greatest honor to take your hand, introduce you and walk you through how to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and how to have a personal relationship with Him.

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The Powerful Presence of the Lord

The Powerful Presence of the Lord

Squeal with delight

It was about 57 A.D.

Paul stood before a group of Christians in Troas in the land of Troy. He must have had a lot to say to the followers of Jesus. Quite literally. We don’t know when he began his speech, but he talked, and people listened, until dawn.

I find this story funny and convicting. Did Luke record it with a chuckle as he remembered that night?

 “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘He’s alive!’ Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted,” (Acts 20: 7-12 NIV).

Raised from the dead

Imagine this. A young man falls asleep in a window and then falls from the third story to his death. Paul, apparently without losing momentum, walks downstairs and throws himself on the boy, bringing him back to life.

The crowd must have gone from shock to horror to awe and reverence, followed by joy and adoration.

I’m unsure if Paul portrayed God’s presence through his words and tone. However, I feel certain the people listening experienced the powerful presence of the Lord when Paul raised Eutychus from the dead.

God was among them, working and moving within this new family of believers. Paul’s actions taught them more than his words ever could. He did not panic. He did not cry in horror or apologize for the length of his speech. Paul simply demonstrated confidence in the Lord and faith through his actions.

Determined to finish

Nothing could deter Paul from communicating what he wanted the people to hear. He did not seem at all surprised by this event. He didn’t change one thing – except a few minutes away from his speech and food. I think Paul must have demonstrated multitasking before the term came along.  He ate, preached, got distracted and rescued the boy who died on his watch, then went back upstairs and continued preaching and eating.

This early church came for one experience — a meal and Paul’s preaching. They left knowing the presence of God was real. I’m sure that night was forever etched in the memories of those in attendance.

Power in His presence

What are our expectations when we go to church? Do we expect a sermon and a snack? Or do we come expecting to experience the presence of God?

I admit, I have zoned out from time to time. But I want that experience, don’t you?

Jesus has much to say about it. He even had his servants write it down for us on the pages of His Word.

I pray that today we will know God’s powerful presence in our lives. I pray that we will read, absorb His Word, draw closer to Him, and live expecting the miraculous and powerful presence of God.

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Don’t know Jesus? You can.

It would be my greatest honor to take your hand, introduce you and walk you through how to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and how to have a personal relationship with Him.

Find out more here.

 

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