Monday, February 24, 2014

Broken Vessels Made Anew

I think we have this idea that something must be whole and complete, beautiful and put-together, in one piece and shining brightly to be good or to be useful. And this makes sense, like I wouldn't use a cracked mug for my morning cup of tea for fear of the liquid seeping out the fractured sides. The beauty of the pottery might still be seen despite the cracks, but the damage would render the mug useless for its intended purpose.

Yet as practical a concept this is for everyday objects that require functionality to be useful, I think sometimes we translate this concept too much into our own lives. We strive for perfection when it is impossible, think we must be whole and complete before we are acceptable or useful, spend our lives working harder and harder just to be "good enough."

But we can never be good enough. We can never be just enough.

We are always seeking to improve and become stronger and better and smarter. Because when I'm smarter I'm more useful, when I'm better I can make more of a difference. And maybe somehow in my mind I've convinced myself that I'm not worth much until I'm as good as I can possibly be and so I try to fix all the fragments of my broken life on my own until I'm good enough to present as useful and beneficial with the potential to actually be something. I think I have to be whole before I can be complete. Think I have to be fixed before I can be fruitful.

And I've been thinking about this idea of things needing to be fixed and good before they can be used with the concept of the Gospel.

The Gospel that says we simply are broken, a given and undeniable fact, and saved by grace alone, solely by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. The Gospel that says it is not about cleaning up and then coming before God. The Gospel that says there is no making yourself pretty and fixing your hair and then presenting yourself to your Heavenly Father. The Gospel that says only Jesus can make you white as snow and present you as a beautiful bride before the Throne. The Gospel that says you are a mess. The Gospel that says you are broken. The Gospel that says you are not "good enough," never will be "good enough," and you cannot fix yourself.

I think sometimes we perceive Jesus' sacrifice as the glue that puts our broken pieces back together.

To borrow the pottery analogy oft used in the Bible: we are ceramic vessels, broken ones. Broken pieces of pottery lying on the floor because we are broken people in a fallen world. And I think sometimes we see the Gospel as a thing that puts the broken pieces back together, fixes us, makes us all pretty again, and sends us on our merry way to be used like we had never been broken.

But the reality is we are never perfected to move on as if we had never been smashed bits of pottery on a cold hard floor.

We are broken vessels, and we will always be broken vessels, until the world is restored. We will always be broken, messy people desperately in need of grace and desperately in need of the cross.

And the beauty is God doesn't just take those broken pieces and say, "you're useless to me like this, so I'll glue you back together where you can be of some service."

God uses broken vessels.

He doesn't just glue us back together so we're a semblance of what we were supposed to be, a whole-ish vessel, looking put back together, but never really quite good enough because the cracks are still present.

Rather, He uses the broken pieces, and makes something new. Something beautiful.

He takes the broken pieces of pottery and grinds them up, mixes them with water and clay to make new pottery. Or He takes the broken pieces and crafts a beautiful mosaic.

See God doesn't look at us as broken people and say, "you are ugly and broken and so I can't use you until you've put yourself back together." Instead He uses our brokenness. He uses us broken vessels, to create something new.

Because we will never be truly whole  in this broken world, but God's restoration of this world is that He doesn't just glue things together, which is a temporary and unsatisfying fix. Instead, He creates something new, something renewed, something restored.

And He makes beautiful things out of broken pieces of pottery, once just shards on the ground, now complete in a new creation.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Bearing Back

He bared His back and took
the lashes
The number
just shy of murder

He bared His back so
your back could be free

He lifted up your burdens,
Take My yoke upon thee,
for it is easy

No condemnation
Now grace, you see
For away has wrath been washed
In a flood of water
and blood

He says, you are
oh child of Mine
Bought at a price
Once a slave,
now free
now adopted

I bared My back
bore murderous lashes
Child of Mine,
you are redeemed

So give Me all things
tired, weary and broken
Let My back bear the weight of whips

Let burdens fall on Me
And let Me
your resting peace

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Restored by the Sea

Broken pieces
wash away into the sea
All the ugly parts
of me
I'm free? 

Sand should be washed white
Flawless and perfected

Or so I thought
it'd be

Like I'd blink my eyes 
a flash of light -
It'd all go away, 
But in
wounds heal, and
scars are there to stay 

Broken pieces do 
wash into the sea
Those ugly pieces pulled
by curling crests and forceful waters
Salty with tears of sins and sorrows 

But there are divots and dents
Fragments of shell crushed into the sand 
The ugly washed clean
Not perfected, but

But you can't forget the stories
If scars fade there's nothing to tell

Because I'm sanctified by blood and bruises 
Cleansed by grace for my depravity 

I can't forget that I'm unworthy 
Power of wind and waves remind me
I'm not needed, but, 
still held in high esteem 

Wind grabs ahold and pulls me
dragging broken pieces down
Washed into the sea

And the stormy waves
They wreck me

It was never a quick fix
Not one simple storm 
to wash it all away

Because those broken pieces run deeper
I'm not perfected, but

And the stormy waves are pleading
Come with Me