There. I said it. I’m a vessel, broken and shattered. I often say one thing and do another. I get frustrated, angry, stressed out and drained. I mess up. Every. Single. Day. Some days it feels as though making it to the end will be a blessing because I don’t feel like I’ve been that blessing. But then…
God steps in.
He was never away. Some days I just forget to look for Him in the moments. As if I hadn’t noticed that He was there all along. Hadn’t noticed God you ask? Really?!? He’s the breath and the life in every living thing, He’s the peace in every stormy vale, He’s the grandeur as we look out at the flowers and hills and valleys, the mountaintops, the raging seas and the still puddles where the songbirds play after a rain. How could I go through even part of a day without noticing Him? It’s in our human nature to do things our own way, to do it alone, to lean on our own understanding. But God wants us to lean on Him, to lean into Him, to put all of our weight on Him. Both literally and figuratively.
Sometimes it just feels more difficult than others doesn’t it? Like the day my husband is walking out the door to head to work and the car keys have, as my son used to say in his younger years, ended up “somewhere they don’t want to be.” The dog has just thrown up after trying to eat half a bag of bread the day before that she thought was an extra treat left on the counter just for her when we left the house. The kids are upstairs screaming at each other. Something about a lego piece and some garbled words too 6 year old screechy to understand. Have I mentioned that my family and I are far from perfect? — I’ll leave that to God who is perfect and whose ways are always perfect. Are You in any of this on this particular morning God? It’s on a morning like this that once my brain has toned down a notch or three I can stop and pay attention and see God in the mess. The keys were on the floor below the hook under a coat that didn’t get put away the day before. The dog couldn’t help it. The vomit or the canine urge to sniff out and eat the bread. The kids have somehow settled themselves. All of these small irritations are simply proof of my need for dependency on God. Every. Single. Day. Because when I lean on Him and put all my weight on Him…well, He picks up the pieces, lightens the load and strengthens me for the journey ahead.
Life is messy. I’m messy. So are you. But God uses these messy, broken vessels of us as catalysts of joy and grace and love for a hurting world. If we let Him, He will take the part of us that is hurting the most, broken the most and the most tired and that is the part that He will use to reveal His glory and His purpose in our lives. Incredible isn’t it? I mean, what we perceive as the most messed up part inside of us ends up being the very vessel that can bring hope and healing to others. That place that we never wanted or intended to see the light of day, once Christ shines His light, becomes a beacon of light drawing others home to a life of love. A life lived for Christ. That messy divorce, the lifelong journey through depression, the phobia that was larger than life, the time that someone said “Oh no! ____(set name here) is in the room!” These are all stories of people I know. Broken people. Hurting people that have taken their broken place to God and allowed Him to begin healing their hearts and their minds. I have also seen the light of Christ flow from every one of these stories. God takes the broken pieces and uses them to build beautiful stories.
It’s like a ladder. Imagine with me that a piece breaks off the ladder near the bottom. Sometimes the break is our own doing, but more often it’s not. Rejection, neglect, ignorance, deliberate wrongful actions. These all come into play and many more scenarios. Now imagine that the Holy Spirit takes that broken piece in our hand and uses it to create a new rung on that same ladder, a step closer to God and His purposes for our life. A rung leading us to a deeper intimacy with God. A rung enabling us to minister with more wisdom to those in our churches. A rung leading us to reach out to the lost with the love of God that caused that broken piece to start to bear fruit not only in us but through us.
Isn’t God great? He surprises me. Every. Single. Day. He takes the craziest, messiest, most broken place in our day, in our life. He sets it in front of us, prompts us to lean on Him, into Him and to put all its weight on Him, and then when we do he covers us with His feathers and gives us refuge under the shelter of His wings. In this place we grow, we are nurtured, we heal. Like a butterfly undergoing metamorphosis. In the cocoon is where the most beautiful transformation can take place. In that secret, quiet place. But first, that butterfly has to break the shell of who it was (that crawling caterpillar) in order to reach the heights that it was created to fly to on butterfly wings. Where does it find its wings? In the secret place. And so it is with God. When we allow the Holy Spirit to take those broken ladder rungs, when we allow the broken pieces of our lives into the secret place, there is where God will transform it in order to use it for His glory to the full extent that He desires.
I have one more (broken) piece to add. After the caterpillar has made the transformation within the cocoon there are two more pieces to its story. First, it must break out of the cocoon. If another breaks the cocoon open without the new butterfly struggling to get free, it will never reach its full potential. Its wings will never fully develop. So God allows us struggles in this life, even as He sets us free not from our brokenness, but in it. Lastly, before taking flight that butterfly needs to wait. Once it breaks free from the cocoon it cannot immediately take flight. It must find a place to crawl to and wait. Wait for its wings to become ready for flight. We too must wait on God, keep our focus on Him and keep leaning on Him and putting all of our weight on Him. Just as He created that butterfly to fly, He created us to fly too. Imperfect, messy and broken as we are.
Broken and beautiful.
Jennifer Heidinga is a first-year MDiv distance student. She’s a wife and mom to two wonderful children in Ontario, Canada. She loves to sing and enjoys spending time with her family and springer spaniel in the great outdoors, including weeklong backcountry canoe trips in the summer.