Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Broken Vase... Part Two

Ok, we left off yesterday with being shattered, lying scattered on the ground. Now that feels hopeless. "Will there be anyone to pick up the pieces of me, who can tenderly put me back together again?"

The people who we all resent, ridicule or just feel jealous of do not really have it all. They spend so much time keeping up their facade, that they don't have time for anything else. They put so much energy into hiding their true selves that they don't have the stamina to do more than just slap on a band-aid. They don't have time for true relationships so the settle for being mere acquaintances and thinking that it is true friendship. They most certainly don't have time for God. They don't realize or have the time to think about the fact that God is the ultimate helper. He can bring back the joy, the love, the energy that these people have lost and cannot seem to find. God is not a temporary fix!

John 14:16 
"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever..."

Yesterday I asked about what happens to that shattered, scattered vase when no one takes the time to fix them. What are your thoughts?

A better question is, what happens when someone is able to follow that nearly invisible trail of ceramic pieces and gathers them, taking the time to lovingly and carefully put the vase back together again?

The vase, while not necessarily complete but is whole. The vase is put together again, possibly missing some pieces, but created new.

Jeremiah 18:2-5
“Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

The vase bears the scars from life. There is a certain beauty in the scars. While the scars themselves are may not have physical beauty - I know you think I am ridiculous. "How are these horrendous scars beautiful?! You are nuts!" You are partly right. I can be nuts at times, but bear with me.

While the scars themselves may not be physically beautiful but the meaning of those scars is. Those scars represent survival. They represent an overcoming. No matter what you are going through, the hands that we are dealt leaves its mark on us. Each mark is a scar, no matter the size and depth. These scars are your reminder that you have overcome what life tried to drop you with. 

John 16:33 

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

We are not the only ones with scars. We're not the only ones who have overcome something that probably by all rights should have dropped us. Jesus is the man in the verse who overcame the world. The most amazing thing is, Jesus is just waiting to gather up those pieces and put our broken vases back together again. 

Jesus was beaten, insulted, spit on. He was killed on a cross. He had a twisted vine with thorns pushed deep onto his head as a crown.

Mark 14:65
"They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him."

Matthew 27:26
"...But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified."

Matthew 27:39
"Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads... "

Luke 22:63
"The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64 They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” 65 And they said many other insulting things to him."

John 19:1-3
"Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face."

Jesus was crucified, had nails in his wrists and feet to hold him onto the tall, wooden cross. If you ever doubt that he was seriously tortured, read up on exactly what a crucifixion is. It will knock your socks off to know what Jesus volunteered to suffer for us. He allowed it to happen. Sure, being the Son of God, he could have easily saved himself but he didn't. God loves us so much that he sent his own son, Jesus, to take our place on the cross. 

If THAT is not love, I will never know what is.

He is longing to wrap you in his arms, put you back together and comfort you. There are people in your life right now that God has strategically put there to help you. They are just waiting for you to acknowledge them and let them know that you need help. 

Our broken pieces cry out to God for help, even if we do not realize it. It usually takes us hitting rock bottom to  make us see that we need help. It doesn't have to be this way. 

I'm sure that there are many times when you feel so unloved and unlovable, unworthy that you wonder why you are even alive. You are alive because He created you. He loves you so completely that his own son took your place - my place - on that cross. God has never left your side. Whatever you've been through, in the midst of it all, He has been there with you. You were so blinded by your struggles that you missed seeing Him, feeling His presence. 

God has always loved you and always will. Nothing will change that. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. He loves you, broken scars and all.

Read John 19 for more of Jesus' crucifixion story.  The Bible is filled with stories of broken people, changed by God, used in a variety of ways to do His work. Moses was used by God. Have you heard of him? Moses was inelegant of speech and stuttered. He also rescued the Israelites and brought them out of Egypt. David - King David - the former shepherd who took down a giant - he was an adulterer. Many, many others stories are in the Bible. Did you know that a prostitute rescued God's men from certain death? It's true, but also a completely different post.

If you'd like to know more, let me know! I have a Bible at hand, great ability for researching and reasoning and completely awesome hearing.

God's blessing to you my friends.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Broken Vase, a metaphor.... Part One

Wow, has it been forever since I last wrote a blog post! Quick update: school is going well for both boys, fighting the normal colds that come with the Winter season and we're still a happy family! Woohoo!

That said, let's get started!

First off, you start life off as a vase, in perfect condition. (I got this idea from a book cover, but cannot recall the title or author. I'll give credit when and if I ever come across it again!)

Somewhere - sometime - in your life the perfect vase that you used to be, was broken. Life is rough and there are no guarantees that it will be perfect, or even good for that matter.

Life is guaranteed to be tough. It is meant to be. We each go through trials - those sometimes pesky, little rough patches or those deep pits that we may fall into. Each little rough patch causes our smooth surfaces to crack, to chip away in places. Each new trial causes them to get bigger and we begin losing pieces until finally...
We are completely broken, shattered on the ground. It feels as if every single piece of ourselves is left scattered. We feel so alone and scared. We feel as if nothing can possibly pick up our broken pieces and put us back in some semblance of ourselves.

God puts special people in our lives; they can mend us, heal us before we shatter if we allow them to. They can fix our chips and seal our cracks. The problem is that we can be so lost and alone that we have no clue that there are people willing, ready and able to help us! We can be too blinded by our pain, rejection and brokenness that we fail to see anyone. They may as well be invisible for all our self-absorption and self-pity. Speaking of alone.....

How many people are on this earth, right now? Do you know?

There are over 7 BILLION people breathing on this earth, right now!

Do you think that it is even remotely possible that there is NO ONE else who has a snibbet or an idea of the pain you are feeling? The feelings of being lost and alone, feeling rejected or whatever else you may be feeling? Chances are that you pass one person on the sidewalk, the streets, the aisles in the supermarket each day or week that knows how you feel. They may have gone through your trials, or some similar themselves. 

We are a private people when it comes to deep hurts. A lot of times we fear other's opinions of us, of how we live, how we act, how we view life. We fear their judgements.

NEWS FLASH: IT DOESN'T MATTER! Their opinions do not matter. Only two opinions really matter and that is your own opinion and God's. That is it. 

This is something that I deal with constantly. I have a fear of socializing. I am way too concerned and worried about those pesky opinions and can be so blinded by my fears that I don't always see people's true reactions and feelings for me. It isn't easy and it is always a struggle. 

My fear comes from my experiences in life. Rejection by people I cared about, stinging and false (!) accusations against me, losing friends through accidents.... They all take their toll on our whole beings. I've been physically beaten down repeatedly and even worse, I let it happen. 

It takes a lot for me to put my trust in others for these reasons. If you are a close friend of mine, consider yourself to have my complete trust and loyalty. It is not lightly given by any means!

Okay, back to the matter at hand.... 

Some people seem to have kept their vase spotless and unbroken, as they skip through what we view as the "Fairy Tale Trail of Life." Their lives seem perfect. Their relationships seem perfect. They must never have had to struggle or fight for anything in their lives, we think. They have everything - a nice, big house, a new car, a gargantuan group of close friends, even an overflowing bank account. (Are we judging? Yes.) 

Look closer. Is that.... is that a crack I see? Maybe it is just the light. Look again. They have chips, cracks; they possibly have even been painted over. 

They think, "These cracks must be hidden, tucked away! No one can see them!"  
"What will people think if they see me imperfect?" 

They are empty, just like we are. Lost. Lonely. They have become masters as hiding their blemishes and brokenness behind their perfectly painted masks. If you look really, really closely, you can just barely see the hairline fractures and carefully covered chips. 

We are all fragile vases. We all have chips, cracks, even some holes here and there. It is okay! Some of have shattered, some are just one tiny ding away from completely shattering. Perfection is just an illusion, a disheartening facade really. We can easily find ways to pretend, but someone will always see through to the bitter, broken shell.

There are even more people who just seem to never catch a break. They go from struggle to struggle to struggle, seemingly without breaks. They manage to climb out of the sinkhole only to find themselves tumbling right back in. Their vases are barely held together with string and sticky tape and everywhere they go, their teeny pieces of themselves are left behind; a trail of chips and dings. 

To certain people, when the light is just right, the special people that God has put in our lives will see this nearly invisible trail and follow it. They gather up the pieces. 

Will you see them, or will you be blinded by your own struggles and continue to battle alone?

The choice is your own. What happens to a shattered vase, when no one steps in to fix it? It is just pieces of a once beautiful vase that now lies in pieces. We are a lonely, empty pile of ceramic. You can put a band-aid on it, or find a more permanent solution. 

Read Jeremiah 18:2-6. I'll be back with more soon. Can the vase ever be fixed?

God's blessings, my friends.

Jeremiah 18:2-3
“Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel...'