Not Broken, Human

Five Minute Friday prompt: BROKEN

Years ago I stopped using the words “sinful” or “sinner” to describe myself and others. While they are biblical terms to describe a spiritual reality, I realized those words only played nice on the church grounds. Those across the street couldn’t hear the good news of a loving God because as they walked by some well-intentioned soul slapped them with a label. Maybe those words don’t play nice on church grounds, either.

I substituted the term “broken.” Most people know they’ve made mistakes, whether intentionally or not. They might begrudgingly admit that they aren’t living their best life, that they – and the world in which they live – are capable of so much more.

Lately, I’ve noticed myself moving away from “broken.” I prefer “human.”

Human includes every last one of us, wherever we are in the journey of life. Humans are imperfect and make mistakes. Humans sabotage and self-sabotage. Humans also have the capacity to grow and change. Humans can learn better patterns for living well. We can develop healthier habits that nurture our lives and foster loving relationships.

Broken is disparaging. It’s objectifying, as if we are toys that got played with too roughly and no longer pop – eliciting a heart-thumping shriek of laughter – when the timer goes off. Broken doesn’t work. It requires fixing. If broken can’t be fixed, it might as well get tossed with the trash. If humans are broken, has our capacity to learn and grow cracked? Maybe we’re hopeless. Maybe we’re beyond love.

Psalm 51:17 says, “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” A broken spirit recognizes our need for God and leads us to worship. I argue that a broken spirit is actually whole, a whole-hearted gift of our whole self offered to a God who receives and loves every atom of our being and moment of our lives.

A cursory examination of broken in scripture: We’ve broken covenant with God and each other. Broken faith, commands, and treaties. In the purity laws, broken skin was unclean. First Samuel 2:10 says “…those who oppose the Lord will be broken,” but that refers to judgment against those who reject God, not to God’s people who struggle to do right.

There are broken vessels and walls, broken necks and arms, broken wheels and sandals, broken cisterns and gates, broken branches and horns. Broken empires and idols. Another reference to a broken spirit depicts grief and brokenheartedness. A cord of three strands will not be quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12) so braid God into your human relationships. God will deliver his people from their enemies by breaking “the rod of the wicked” (Isaiah 14:5). The prophets often use the word broken as judgment against God’s enemies. Jesus also broke bread and fish to sustain the multitudes.

When we celebrate the sacrament of communion, we remember that Jesus’ body was broken for us. His body was broken, but not the whole of his being. His body wasn’t broken for broken people. His body was broken for love of the precious human beings he created, those he loves and sustains and longs to be with in relationship from now until forever.

A ministry leader once told me that I was broken and it was his job to fix me. I cried in recognition of the sad truth that I had been harshly judged, evaluated and found wanting, kicked to the curb as something unloved and unlovable.

He was wrong, friends. You and I are not broken in need of fixing, but beloved human beings. Learning, growing, living. Becoming. Human.

Image by Platelicker from Pixabay

Hope Has Come

Hope. What is it, even? Does it make any difference?

I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight…

But hope is more than wishing. Hope is expectancy, pregnant with anticipated reality.

Hope gives us strength to muster on, to slog through the daily reality, harsh as it some days may be.

Hope is whispered truth that Someone lavishes on us great riches of love, even when we feel dirt poor in life’s oozing mud.

Our hearts ache this season – our family friend is dying, so unexpectedly quick. His own family prayerfully endures the momentary ups-and-downs of life’s end. Another sweet friend has a father sick, hopefully not-yet at his end. Her grandmother experienced what we can only call a miracle of complete healing. Why spare grandma, ready to go, and not dad, longing to stay?

Those major life movements. And the minor – the day-to-day, home-work-school-home – movements. The daily interactions of grace and pain that linger in soft spots of thought and heart and soul. The daylong and momentary communications as we load backpacks, drive carpools, share work and lunch and work, shuffle through homework before dinner before even-more carpools before bedtime – and when was family time?

Our church put on its annual Christmas concert this weekend: A Song of Hope.

Hope: What is it? Does it make a difference?

This song, Hope Has Come, set the tone and grabbed me at the core…

Come all ye faithful
See the love see the grace
That is born unto us tonight
Come all ye broken
See the love see the hope
That restores ev’rything that’s been lost

Hope has come to us tonight
Death is drowned out by His light
Hope is here and He’s alive
Takes our pain and lifts our eyes

O come let us adore Him…

What makes these minor – and major – movements bearable? The presence of God, so near, so here, so With Us Emmanuel, hallelujah! We have hope because of God’s love, because of the hope God pours out on us as He lavishes His rich-RICH love, to use the “old words” – “Oh, what manner of love the Father has given unto us, that we should we called the children of God!” God is near. God is here. God loves us. We have hope.

Week 3 – Hope of His Coming
December 14-20

Read Scripture: 1 John 3:1-3
Candle lighting: Light the first three candles.

Read: Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The first candle represents the hope of Israel. The second candle represents the hope of heaven. The third candle represents the hope of His coming.

What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a child of God, now and forever! Think about it: how incredible that God – great big Creator of the whole world God – loves us and calls us His very own children. Just like we remain our earthly parents’ children even when we become grown-ups, we will always be God’s kids. And when Jesus returns, those who put their hope in Him will also be like Him. What a promise!

Pray: Dear God, thank you for loving us and making us your children. We look forward to eternity with you. In the name of Jesus we hope and pray, Amen.

 

Throughout the Week// light the candle, read and discuss the daily Scripture and pray together.

Light three candles as you say: Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Read & Discuss:
Monday// Psalm 33:20// When has God helped or protected you?
Tuesday// Psalm 46:10-11// God says, “Be still…” because He was, is and will be with us. What hope does it give you that God holds us all in His hands?
Wednesday// Psalm 119:114// How can God’s Word give you hope?
Thursday// Matthew 28:18-20// How can you help others know about Jesus before He returns?
Friday// Romans 8:22-24// What would you say if you could crawl up on your Daddy God’s lap right now?
Saturday// Hebrews 11:1// What does faith in Jesus mean to you?

Pray: Dear God, thank you for loving us and making us your children. We look forward to eternity with you. In the name of Jesus we hope and pray, Amen.