God Uses Broken Things

casserole-dish.jpgWe sat at the kitchen table discussing what no parent wants to discuss—the death of a child. They were elderly. They had lived long and storied lives. Still, this was no easy conversation. Faces were long. Tears flowed. Their beloved child had not always lived the life they had taught her to live. Reflecting brought pain to parents who had already known more than their share of heartache.

Everything was not somber, though. Throughout their lives there were good times mixed in with the bad. There were joys sprinkled in the midst of sorrows. There was also the consolation that, late in her life, this prodigal child had come home. Her heart had been humbled, but her health was wrecked. Even as the tears were still flowing, peace enveloped the room as we began to recall some of the ways her life had been used by God in recent years.

I leaned forward to take in more of this moment. I noticed something about the elegant casserole dish placed as a centerpiece for the table. It had never before caught my eye. The lid on this elaborately decorated dish was cracked in several places. The cracks were hardly visible, until you looked at the lid very carefully.

As we continued to talk, I asked about the dish. I was told that it was a gift from a family member, one of their prized possessions. My hostess was quick to point out that they didn’t use it any more, since the lid got broken. The only indication of what had happened was when she raised her eyebrows and gave her husband a not-so-subtle glance. She told me of the many years this dish was used to serve a warm meal for the family to enjoy. Even though they didn’t use it for this purpose any longer, it was still very valuable to them, since it held so many precious memories.

The value of this ceramic bowl and lid was sentimental. It could not be measured in terms of intrinsic worth. It was precious to them because of the value of the memories it held. It occurred to me that it symbolized more than the past, though. It seemed, also, to be well suited as a metaphor of the present. With its brokenness mended, there was still an important place for this dish in their lives. There was a sense in which it was cherished even more.

That is how it was for them and their dearly-loved, recently-departed daughter. With the spiritual maladies in her life mended by the Great Physician, she had become even more precious to them than ever before. Her life had been broken, perhaps shattered would be a better word, but God had put her back together. The cracks were still visible, too. There were many things that she could no longer do. Her brokenness prevented this. But, her victorious emergence from the gristmill of life in “a distant country” was a testimony of the grace of God and the power of prayer. In spite of the many wayward paths she had taken, there was still much to celebrate in the end!

That is how it is for each one of us. We are all cracked pots. Our brokenness is “mendable” only by the powerful working of God’s matchless grace. Though we sometimes try to hide the cracks, they are still visible. We’d all be better off, in my estimation, if we didn’t try to conceal them at all. In fact, it would probably bless a lot of people if we would be willing to put all our broken dishes on the table, exposing our brokenness to the world. This way all who get close to us can marvel at God’s handiwork in putting us back together. It just might be that when others see how highly valued we are to our loving Father who mends our brokenness, they might get the sense that God cherishes them, as well.

As I drove home from my visit that day the chorus of a song written by Ken Young kept running through my mind. This song, titled “Broken Things”, has been one of my favorites for a long time. The chorus is:

O, Lord, who uses broken things;
Who through broken clouds gives us sweet, sweet rain;
Who gives us bread from broken grain;
O, Lord, make me stronger through broken things.

If we will unashamedly acknowledge and exhibit God’s handiwork in our lives, we will also be constantly reminded that God has a purpose and place for us in His service. We are created in Christ Jesus for good works, right? Remember: God has mended our vessels so that He can fill us full-to-overflowing with fabulous treasure that He wants us to share with the whole world. God uses broken things.

© Bill Williams
May 15, 2007
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About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
This entry was posted in Blogroll, Children, Christian Living, Dealing with Grief, Embracing Grace, Kingdom Living. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to God Uses Broken Things

  1. Bob Bliss says:

    Bill, great thoughts. Among my favorite passages are 2Corinthians 4:7-12 & 12:9. It is not our strengths that get us through but God’s strength showing through our weaknesses (cracks).

    Tom Stuart reports that he felt wonderfully received by the Cedars congregation. Thanks for your help with Tom.

    Thanks, Bob. I appreciate you sharing these passages. I’ll pass along Tom’s kind regards. I wish his visit in the area would have yielded more of the fruit he was hoping for, though.

  2. Lisa says:

    Beautiful, Bill! Very touching. You have such a way with words.

    Thanks, Sis! I think this is the first time I’ve gotten comments from a father-daughter duo. I appreciate your family so much!!

  3. Maggie says:

    “That is how it is for each one of us. We are all cracked pots. Our brokenness is “mendable” only by the powerful working of God’s matchless grace. Though we sometimes try to hide the cracks, they are still visible. We’d all be better off, in my estimation, if we didn’t try to conceal them at all. In fact, it would probably bless a lot of people if we would be willing to put all our broken dishes on the table, exposing our brokenness to the world. This way all who get close to us can marvel at God’s handiwork in putting us back together. It just might be that when others see how highly valued we are to our loving Father who mends our brokenness, they might get the sense that God cherishes them, as well.”

    I just thought that was so well said, it should be said again. So much for my wrinkle cream, eh? I like that thought!

    You’re fortunate if wrinkle cream works for you. I’ve been using Bondo!

  4. Great post, Bill. I love the analogy and the admonition. Thanks so much.

    Becky

    Appreciate your encouragement, Becky!

  5. Neva Cooper says:

    Bill,
    I read a poem once, wish I could remember it all and who it was by. But the jist of it was that when we are broken, God will let us, if we insist, put ourselves back together but He would make us something more beautiful and more useful. It is only when we have been broken and put back together that the Light shines out through the cracks.
    I love the poem—the broken areas of our lives serve to expand our ministries. God is so cool–the way He does indeed use broken things.

    Peace and prayers
    Neva

    I like that image also! Thanks for contributing to the conversation, Neva.

  6. Mark Wilson says:

    Thank You Lord that You DO use broken things.

    Thanks Bill,
    Mark.

    Praise the Lord!

  7. Pingback: Why I blog and how I blog « My life as a Christian

  8. Mark Wilson says:

    Hey Bill,

    I just remembered that I wrote a post somewhat similar to this one on Mar 22nd, 2006
    http://achristian.wordpress.com/2006/03/22/cracked-pots-you-are-valuable

    I thought you might like to read it.

    God bless you!
    Mark.

  9. cwiwnc says:

    Great story Bill. Isn’t it interesting how a Perfect God would use imperfect humans to get out His perfect message of forgiveness.

  10. Steve says:

    Great post, Bill.

    Peace to you.

  11. Greg England says:

    If God didn’t use broken things, we’d all be pretty much useless.

  12. Dee Andrews says:

    THE MOSAIC

    I put them all behind yesterday
    Or at least I tried.
    It is too soon to know if it has worked this time
    For I have tried before, and failed.
    But I picked up all the broken pieces
    Of the shattered dreams of yesterday,
    The ones as fragile as the finest
    China; the ones of the coarsest clay.
    I turned to God and I said,
    “I know I can do better ahead.”
    Because I saved all the best of the glass
    And the clay; and I have cast
    The rest away to be burned.
    What I saved I have turned
    Into a beautiful mosaic for You.
    Pieces of all the thoughts of my life
    That I had thought were lost in the strife
    Were only changed and made much better,
    Because in You, the Great Creator,
    Can come a beautiful life from broken dreams.

    I tried to put away the worst, to save the best
    But on this earth even the best is not enough.
    The edges are all still rough.
    But God supplies the grout
    That binds, and smooths the edges out.
    He helps each one form
    Their own mosaic in this life.
    They all are different to the eye
    But each is precious in His view
    Because they are parts of me and you.
    And what a dazzling display it will be
    When in Heaven we shall see
    Our beautiful mosaics all around
    Shining and glowing in the light of the Son.
    A gallery of good and loving thoughts
    We gained from what the Savior taught.

    Dee Andrews circa 1975

  13. preacherman says:

    I just want to burst into the song…”Break my heart.” Great post brother!
    Great post indeed!

  14. Maggie says:

    😀 Not sure if the wrinkle creme works for me, but at this point, FEELING “proactive” is about all we’ve got left!

    Bondo. HA!

  15. Bob says:

    Bill, who knows what fruit God might produce in the future. Tom preached here last Sunday evening while I was driving back from Harding after our son’s graduation. I doubt that Tom will give up on his Mom.

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