Thursday, July 21, 2016

Broken Moments

We curled up in big, cozy chairs, a bold red umbrella shielding us from the summer sun. It was a sweet time of fellowship with a dear friend I don't get to hug often enough. 

Sitting in perhaps the most beautiful setting in town, we talked about...brokenness. Broken bodies. Broken dreams. Broken families.

We shared about personal heartache, but all the while, national and global brokenness also swirled and raged. It would seem that the content of our conversation was completely out of sync with our picturesque surroundings.

The patio at Graylyn in Winston-Salem, NC
But, in reality, it wasn't contradictory at all. Because in the midst of confiding about woundedness, there was testimony of God's tender Presence. His faithfulness. His strength. Beauty from ashes.

At one point, my friend got up to check on her kiddos, and I gazed out across the patio around us. Its vast expanse of stones - set in a mesmerizing pattern of countless sweeping arcs - was incredibly calming. I snapped a quick picture with my phone, capturing the moment for posterity.

Tucking my legs back under me, I glanced down to find my eye captured by a single jagged stone. It was uneven, broken, shadowy. Completely out of place in this exquisite setting. Then I looked up only to realize that every single stone was similarly imperfect, defective.

Those rocks are my life. My friend's life. All of our lives.

So many moments in our journey - sometimes every single day for excruciatingly long seasons - are filled with brokenness. Moments marred by confusion and clouded by darkness. With jagged edges that cut our bodies and our hearts.

Whatever and whyever these moments are, they're ugly from the outside and painful on the inside. We can't imagine that anything good will ever come of it. Or beyond it.

And yet.

In the Hands of the Master Designer, individual moments and seasons come together to create beauty. Beautiful stories made of broken pieces. Each of our lives can become like one of those sweeping stone arcs, lining up in God's hands to create a graceful - grace-full - path.

Even more, when we come alongside other people's lives, with their similarly jagged stones, we become part of a beautiful, larger mosaic called the community of God.
In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness ... the Spirit Himself intercedes for us, with unspoken groanings. And He ... intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:26-28 HCSB
In isolation, our broken moments seem irreparably ugly.

In isolation, our broken lives feel hopelessly defective.

But the Father of all eternity wants to draw you close, to whisper love and truth to your heart and mind. And - when you're ready - to show you the bigger, eventually breathtaking, picture.

He also wants you to draw near to others, to become the beauty that is the church. Because its beauty isn't built with perfectly polished stones, but rather with chipped rocks that speak powerfully to the reality of a risen Redeemer.  A risen Redeemer that absolutely loves making beauty out of brokenness.

After all, an ugly stone once hid His own broken body. But when rolled aside, that rock testified to the most powerful and magnificent beauty-from-ashes moment in all of history.

Yes, broken moments are cold and painful.  I know. I've been there. Many times.  I wish I could fix your ache - everybody's aches - but I can't. 

What I can do is say this:  As you experience life's inevitable wounds and shadows, please hold fiercely to the truth that there's more than this moment, and there's a beauty you can't yet see - and let the One who makes all things new love you through the journey.

Directly over my friend's
shoulder, I could see the place
my husband and I stayed - an
unexpected door prize - a few
weeks after he experienced a
stroke in his thirties. Seeing it
as my friend and I talked was
a reminder of one
broken season redeemed.