Broken Pieces

celebration-ceremony-cups-353358Have you heard the phrase, “Like a bull in a China shop”?

Imagine with me a massive bull in a store that sells the most delicate and beautiful porcelain vessels. A bull has no business being inside of a store at all, yet if you imagine the bull bucking everywhere, you can almost hear the sound of teacups and saucers shattering on the floor. Who would want to clean up that mess? Who would want to buy broken pieces?

God.

Much like fine china, all of us are delicate vessels, designed with the utmost care and intricacy. However, we have a very real enemy who is like that bull in a china shop- bucking and goring at our lives so he can destroy us and take away our worth and our opportunities for future use. You see he doesn’t just stop once we’ve been shattered by the trials of life, but he continues to stomp and crush and convince us that we are trash and no longer useful. His lies shove us into the dark of isolation. But we were not created to be isolated and alone with our brokenness. We were meant to live mended and whole; sharing life (the perfect and the broken pieces) with the community we belong to. Not to glorify the pain but to show how through the pain, God’s power can restore. Turning what was meant for destruction into hope that is enduring.

Friend, some of the most crushed parts of our past are the exact spots that God wants to use to bring hope to others. All of our broken pieces are precious and valuable to Him. What the enemy saw as broken and worthless, God sees as valuable and worthwhile.

We see this truth in the life of a man named Joseph.

Joseph’s story may have begun with disruption and messy parts, but the broken places in his life never stopped him from being helpful in the lives of others. He used each gift he had been given no matter the place- whether it was in a prison cell or a palace. Seriously, I encourage you to read the entire story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50. It is well worth your time. My favorite part in his story comes when Joseph reunites with his brothers years after they sold him into slavery:

“Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!  And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” (Genesis 45:4-7 NIV)

Have you ever sifted through the broken pieces of your life, combing through the wreckage to see what was left? Are you currently walking through a messed up time, wondering if God could ever use those painful parts to save someone else’s life?

Maybe your story is similar to Joseph’s and you were sent ahead to walk through the brokenness in order to declare to others that there is hope even after your life looks shattered. Even when if you feel like you’ve been ransacked, you can be the one to tell others that there is still worth beyond the debris.

Friend, I wholeheartedly believe our brokenness possesses beauty- and that beauty brings us into places and conversations with others who desperately need to be reminded of the goodness of God.

We are reminded in Romans:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV)

Did you catch that?

In. All. Things.

In sickness and health, in plenty and in want, in trial or pain, in wholeness or even brokenness…Our God works for the good of those who love Him.

Let’s pray friend:

Dear Heavenly Father, today we say a simple prayer: Lord we give you our story and our broken places. We offer up our lives to You in trust and faith and ask that You, Lord, would use every piece to bring honor to Your Great Name. Lord, we thank You for seeing value within us even when it has been hard of us to recognize it with our own eyes. God, we believe You are working on our behalf and You can redeem back what the enemy has tried to destroy in our lives. Help us to hold onto Your promises and help us live lives that declare hope to everyone we come in contact with. Amen.

 Go the extra mile:

Check out “Wasteland” from NeedToBreathe. We had the privilege of seeing this band preform it live at Red Rocks and what an encouragement it was then and even now! I hope it encourages you!

 

 

Community: Follow-up

It’s Follow-Up Friday Everyone! We began our week talking about the topic of community and moving from longing for it, to putting some action into creating it.

Here is the challenge for us today:

Q: What is one way that you are going to connect with others and develop community this weekend?

Not in a week.

Not next month.

THIS weekend friend:).

I invite you to share with the rest of us one way that you are going to invite others in. The more ideas we share and do = the more we are inching towards a beautiful life shared with others.

Will it be an impromptu dance party like the one above? Or a meal with neighbors you just met? Anyone asking a new friend to lunch…or better yet, coffee? We want to know what your next move is towards community!

So do it! Comment below with your plan of action for reaching out in friendship!

Peace-liz

Community

bonding-daylight-enjoying-708440A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the last challenge! All of the focus words that you shared were inspiring! It’s so encouraging to know that we are not alone on our journey of life and faith; some amazing brothers and sisters surround us in our community.

That’s a weighty word, right? Community.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: We were designed to live in community with others. Our hearts wake up each morning longing for a connectedness that isolation cannot provide. We were all placed onto this earth with unique talents and gifts. Not just for our own use, but rather, to impact the lives of others.

You see, God invites us to:

-Carry each other’s burden’s (Galatians 6:2 NIV)

-Spur each other on to love and a life of service (Hebrews 10:24 NIV)

-Live in peace with one another (Hebrews 12:14 NIV)

-Live devoted lives to God and share life with others (Acts 2:42-47 NLT)

-Strengthen and encourage one another (Acts 14:22 NIV)

-Be kind and compassionate to one another and forgive (Eph 4:32 NIV)

It’s a wonderful thing to long for community. But friend, community doesn’t work if it’s just a longing. Community-living requires action.

Fleshing it out every single day helps us move from longing to belonging. Whether it be in our homes, our places of work, the store, a church, the street, in our neighborhoods, on the phone, across the miles, in a new location – community-living takes effort and follow-through…and in my case, some coffee helps too:).

I was blown away by the responses of those who shared their focus words with us on the last post. Words were shared with our blogging community willingly, for the benefit and inspiration of others. That act of generosity spoke volumes to me friend. I realized there are so many of us who are longing to share life with others; longing to belong to a community that asks about their hopes, dreams, and goals, and are still real enough to ask for help when life gets crazy.

Friend, are you longing for that same type of community? Me too. That’s the community I see developing right here.

I get it friend, letting new people in can be challenging. You’d think it would get easier with age and maturity. Often times, it becomes harder to reach out and connect because we’ve become so comfortable in our own isolation. I’ve been there, and often times I still find myself wandering there- especially in seasons where I am in the midst of personal change and growth.

Remember, my word for this year is “Flourish”. Friend, I know wholeheartedly that I will not be able to flourish and develop deep roots unless I am both firmly planted in The Word of God and in the community of people that He has set before me. We all need a people, a genté, a tribe, to belong to. We need each other.

Friend, You have a people who need your presence in their lives.

You have a voice that needs to be heard and a story that is worth sharing.

You have a perspective that is needed in your circles of influence.

You have a place right here.

Let’s pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for thinking of our every need as we journey together in this life. You crafted us and designed us with beauty and intricacy and gifts that only we are able to share in the context of community. Lord, help us to have eyes to see those around us that we can share life with. Help us to have ears to hear when You are asking us to reach out to others in faith and friendship. Lord, thank you for placing people in our lives that lovingly lead us to You. Thank You for blessing us with opportunities to let others in; to grow and mature alongside others every single day. We don’t want to live in isolation bound by fear- we choose today to live in community with others experiencing freedom. Thank You Lord, for reminding us today that we still have beautiful offerings to share with people in every arena of our lives. As we reach out and grow together, help us to continue to demonstrate the love and acceptance that You’ve so graciously, and freely given to us through the sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus. Thank You God for creating us for community. Amen.

Go the extra mile:

Check out this song by TobyMac. This video has some of the most beautiful and joyful imagery on what happens when we join together with others. These lyrics jumped out to me: “Oh I feel it in my heart, I feel it in my soul, that’s how I know. You take our brokenness and make us beautiful”. Friend, I love the use of “our” and “us”, because that is truly how God heals and restores lives – when we live sharing this life with others. Turn up the volume and enjoy!