Have you ever felt something is too broken to fix? It may be a thing, an item, but equally it may be a relationship, a part of your life which has been damaged and now you see no way back. What do we do with such things – dump them, run away from them, hide them and forget about them?
As I sit here and write this article, our washing machine is in pieces. It started with some beeps and error codes. A few times I had to manually drain the washer, clear a filter and away we were again. But recently it kept failing to clear, so I started stripping the thing down. I can be quite methodical so every screw and piece went on a tray in a logical way that way I knew how to put it back together correctly.
Sure enough, the motor for the pump had burnt out by a piece of wire that had somehow evaded the filter. Out came my phone, I got on the Internet and ordered a new one, and it was while I was undertaking this that it happened...!
We have an inquisitive and ever hungry beagle; while my head was turned she decided to walk through my meticulously laid out pieces (probably to check I hadn’t hidden any food amongst the various screws and bits). I heard the disturbance clatter, turned around but it was too late – everything was scattered over the floor.
I believed I had everything covered logically and organisationally, but had forgotten to close the door properly. I felt like picking the lot up, putting it into the bag and disposing of the lot (dog included!).
Life can seem full of broken things; pieces thrown everywhere, bits lost under cabinets, other things just out of order – our broken relationships, hearts and spirits. We see it in others and, if we are courageous enough to look, within ourselves.
Fearing what others will say or think, it is tempting to cover things up, work hard at putting a front on. We can be so ashamed of our messes.
We live in a society that throws things away; replaces rather than repairs. Who remembers the local TV repair shop, surely now almost extinct? It is often easier (and cheaper) to replace things with new instead of seeing the value in a broken item.
Yet for those familiar with some of the stories of the men and women of the Bible we see a pattern: Moses had a speech impediment; Jonah was absorbed in his own problems; David was a murderer after committing adultery; Samson a womaniser; Rahab a prostitute; Elijah was suicidal; Joseph abused and abandoned; Jacob a schemer and liar; the Samaritan woman had a string of broken relationships and marriages in her past; Zacchaeus an extortionist; Peter was hotheaded and impulsive; Martha worried about everything; Timothy had an ulcer... I could go on!
So where is the hope in these stories? It is that these people were not defined by these broken things, by their deficiencies, problems and failures, but by their relationship with God.
What I love about the Bible is that it doesn’t ignore or paper over people's weaknesses, brokenness and problems. It doesn’t omit them and tell us only of the victories. Instead it tells us how the broken pieces were used gracefully by God as part of His redemptive plan for all of us.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul tells us about struggling with a ‘thorn’ in his life. We are not sure what the problem was but it was enough for Paul to plead three times with the Lord to take it away. Yet His only response was a response that caused Paul to be content because he realised that Christ would be glorified even in this.
Brokenness generally does not look good or pretty. It is often not neat or promises an outcome we want (not what my wife would want to hear as our kitchen floor is currently littered with bits of a Samsung washing machine over it!)
So what do I need to get this machine back to order?
Firstly, I need some instructions. I have searched the Internet and found some from the manufacturer, the original designer and maker. What if we could have original instructions for our lives from the One who designed us and made us? The Bible has been called God’s manual for mankind and gives us so much wisdom how to not only live our lives and steer away from disasters, but it also it reveals how Jesus came to save us from the eternal consequences of the brokenness we find ourselves in.
Secondly, I need a replacement part. So many times in the Bible God promises us a new beginning, a new heart, a new start of things, a new… He longs to come renew or exchange that which is wrong, not just to make things go back the same but so they are better than they ever were before.
In our lives, when we understand that God is wanting to redeem and restore everything we have been or are going through for our good and for His glory (this includes; our brokenness, our failures, our pain, our weaknesses, broken relationships and dreams, every disappointment and deficiency in our character to bring about a story of His redemptive heart) He is able to make everything work together for the good of those who are called according to His purpose.
Jesus never discards the broken pieces of our lives; He redeems and restores every one of them.