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Friday, August 21, 2015

Baggage claim

Broken:  Reduced to fragments; ruptured, torn, fractured; not functioning properly; incomplete; infringed upon or violated.  I honestly believe this is exactly how each and every one of us arrives at the feet of Jesus.  Somehow, whether through our own choices, or the impressions others leave in our lives, we arrive reduced to fragments, not functioning as we should, and sometimes just plain violated by another.  It isn't that our lives are perfect and we finally come to the feet of Jesus - we bring him the messiness of our lives and he welcomes them with open arms.  One of the songs which really ministers to my spirit is the one by Casting Crowns which kind of expresses this thought of being "Broken Together".  If you haven't heard it, there is a part of the song which simply states, "Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete...could we just be broken together".  If we stop for just a moment to understand the wisdom in those simple words, we might just begin to view our relationship with Jesus and each other a little differently.  In coming to Jesus, we are bringing broken (incomplete) lives to him - his response is to say it is just fine.  In sharing "community" with other believers maybe we need to have more of this perspective - allowing others (and ourselves) to just be "broken together".

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he saves those whose spirits are crushed. (Psalm 34:18 CEB)

The song kind of opens up the basic feelings of many of the individuals I have known over the years - the desire to just go "back to simpler times" - when life wasn't as complicated and messed up as it gets when there are wounds, shattered dreams, missed opportunities, and all the resulting emotional scars which result from us "living life".  Broken hearts long for repair - this is just true of all who are broken.  No one wakes up one day and makes a conscious choice to be wounded, violated, left with shattered fragments of a life.  There are times when we make some conscious decisions to just "walk around" in our shattered state, though.  Whenever we reject the welcoming arms of Jesus, feeling too ashamed or too afraid to approach him with the reality of our brokenness, we are going to continue to live pretty fragmented, emotionally "damaged" lives. While we don't want to "live" in a state of brokenness, we need to recognize it sometimes takes a little while for the shattered pieces to mend - much in the same way it takes a shattered bone a while to "remodel" and become strong again.  Even when the shattered bone heals, being helped along by the skilled hands of the orthopedic surgeon, that bone doesn't heal without scars.  Our lives are impacted - scars form - but we don't need to be ashamed or fearful to allow those scars to be seen.

I am a firm believer that truth, spoken in love, mends the broken heart by setting the person who bears those wounds free from their emotional bonds to those wounds.  I am an even strong believer in trusting that "modeled love" will go further than any words we can speak to bind up the wounds of another. I think this is why Jesus didn't just open heaven's expanse one day, speak down the words "Come to me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest". He didn't just expect us to understand this - he needed to come down to this earth and model that for us.  He had to model how much his love meets our brokenness.  He didn't just forgive the sinner - he bound up their wounds, straightened their deformities, and restored them to a place of honor or respect in society.  The leper wasn't just healed of their diseased skin - they were told to present themselves to the priest and be restored.  The prostitute wasn't just forgiven for her indiscretions - she was honored by Jesus as "worthy" of his time and attention and trust.

Some of us believe we cannot possibly be of value to others because our "brokenness" is too great - because we still limp, not always getting things "right" in our lives.  All I have to say is that I still limp.  I still have some pretty deep scars.  I don't have all the "pieces" of my fragmented life all put together in the perfect order.  I am on the road to mending - as are all of the other folks I have met along the way.  The most realistic thing we can do is to come to the reality we will walk this life "broken together" until the pieces mend!  As soon as we recognize EVERYONE has those fragments - some are just more visible than others - we won't be willing to walk "broken together", but will either be too judgmental to accept the broken-hearted, or too focused on our own wounds to feel we can be of any value to another in relationship.  We probably have all heard someone say "He sure has a lot of baggage" or "She's pretty messed up". Truth be told, we ALL have baggage.  Sometimes we might like to think we don't, but none of us lives life without some type of "baggage".  When we judge another by their baggage we just might be limiting the great blessing that other person will bring into our lives (complete with all the baggage)!  

I really don't know "how" your fragmented life happened, but I know those fragments will mend in time when Jesus has a chance to work in your life for a while.  I don't know who violated your trust, abused your body, or sent you deep into an emotional storm with gale-force damage - but I do know who can be trusted above all others, brings healing to broken souls, and settles the worst of storms in our lives.  Some of those who saw Jesus restore blind eyes and straightened bent limbs asked the telling question:  "Who sinned - the parent or the child"?  Isn't that just like us when we see "damaged goods" restored?  We want to know "who was to blame" when all Jesus wants to do is elevate them back to the place of freedom, liberty, and celebrated recovery!  Maybe we'd do well to adopt the truth - at best, we live life "broken together" until Jesus does his work in our lives.  Just sayin!