Wednesday, March 21, 2012

when grace puts together a broken vase



I showed up at the church without my computer, without my notes, without my Bible.  That's bad news when you are the teacher.

For a moment, I calculated the minutes it would take me to get home and back, how long I would need to set up the tablecloths and candles.  Could I leave a note and somebody could set up for me?  I contemplated the headspace I would be in having frantically sped home, constantly on the lookout for the police sirens in my rearview mirror.  No, I decide.  I cannot have a peaceful spirit, an inviting spirit, trying to sprint back home.  

I think back to those early morning hours.  I had risen early to finish preparing for my class.  The spring break with the kids had taken up so much of my time and clearly I was underprepared.  All the while, as I added, rearranged, prayed, read, I felt like God was whispering, Stop working.

So tired, but I pressed on.  And when I finally heeded the words of God, I still felt the need to write my blog post for Soli Deo Gloria.  But, I had run out of words.  My heart was a well run dry.  Suddenly struck by the rays of sunshine against the darkening sky, I penned this:
Today is a day to be completely dependent on the grace of God.  I'm off to teach about Jonah, about cultivating grace, this morning.  What better way to teach than to be actively living it -- stretching fully to the face of God, abandoning self-reliance, relinquishing the image that I've tried to hard to uphold in the past that I have it all together.
I didn't know, but God did, just how those words would work their way from being words on the computer screen to a tangible act in this girl's life.  On the way to church, He gave me a picture of a vase moving closer and closer to the end of the table.  You are the vase.  And then, I watch it shatter to the floor.  Broken into a million pieces.  I arrive at the church, I search the car, finding none of the tools on which I rely on to help me as I teach, and I shatter.

I am broken.  The vase in millions of shards of glass.  I have none of my earthly tools, and yet, the greatest tool has never left me.  I teach my class, my best one yet, I'm told, about Jonah and how He repents for making idols while He is in the belly of that big fish.  And I stand in front of my class and I spill out my own confessions of idolatry.  Yes, I say the biggest idol in my life...the thing that stands between me and God...is myself.

Nowhere was that in my notes.  Only God can bring such things to my attention with such grace.  In the safety of my church, surrounded by women who not only love me, but who are willing to nod their heads in understanding, can I come face to face with myself.  In a moment of rawness, there He was, a healing balm.  In a moment of brokenness, there He was sweeping up the pieces, an unkind word never reaching my ears.  In a moment of feeling out of control, un-put together, He wove His message together with an intricate pattern of unmerited grace.

I still stand shattered.  Not shattered because of leaving behind a computer, but shattered because I've been chasing after things He thinks unimportant.  I've gotten away from doing things His way.  And so, shattered as I am, I can reflect.  And heal.  And put things back the way He had first intended them to be.  All with unmerited grace.

I pray for you that you run into a need for grace today.  I pray that you would stand there and let it wash over you, cleansing you from all the other voices that tell you that you don't need it or don't deserve it or that it doesn't exist.  I pray that the lies that you can and should and need to do it all and be it all are cut off from the contours of your heart.  I pray that you would stand awash in His love, in His mercy, in His grace this day.  Yes, this day.

25 comments :

  1. This is beautiful, Jen. Love it!

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  2. "Standing shattered" with you, Jen. this is one post that will linger with me today.

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  3. Jen, this my favorite post yet. Truly. Such beautiful words that speak truth and hope. And this:

    "I say the biggest idol in my life...the thing that stands between me and God more...is myself."

    It takes soul-courage to hear it, believe it, and then to PRINT it. Wow. I am taking these very words to heart, for I believe the same could be said of me.

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  4. Wonderful post! I, too, am shattered. Thank you for your heart felt words.

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  5. Thank you, Jen. I love this, and they are much needed words today.

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  6. Oh, Jen. I'm honored to be a part of your journey. As a speaker, I am one of those broken vases, too. And so proud of you for going with HIS plan for the moment--- no doubt your words of truth will bear fruit. As a speaker myself, I'm awed by your story and inspired by the way He speaks through his shattered ones. Blessings, dear friend.

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  7. Isn't it wonderful when God uses the little messy moments of our life to teach us His lessons? Those are precious moments of life. I actually had one with God this morning too. Love your post, Jen!

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  8. Thank you for so graciously sharing your heart and God's heart of grace and love for you and for all of us - broken so that we may receive what is best...His love and grace. Blessings, dear Jennifer :)

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  9. I love that verse in II Corinthians 4 where Paul says that we are jars of clay -- receptacles for his glory. He is shining through your cracks, Jen. Thanks for sharing so openly... it's good to know that we are not alone in the crazy struggle.

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  10. I appreciate that you said : "run into a need for grace today". How often to we avoid those bumps into grace because we want to do it all on our own, in our own strength.

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  11. Beautiful..I faced a similar situation this morning. Teaching Bible study and leaving my Bible bag at home. God is so faithful to be strong in our moments of weakness. Praising Him with you!

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  12. I can so relate. I just finished an 8 week session on 1 Peter and towards the end, it seemed that I had nothing of myself to rely on. In the early morning of the study God would change some of my lesson. On the ride to church, He would add things in and take things out. It seemed He was reminding me that I was nothing and that I could take no glory for myself, based on my preparation and study. It left me nervous as I began because my notes were not complete. Yet, that was where He, the God of Grace stepped in.

    It is funny that I have been thinking that I havent' heard from you so I cam looking...and...found this.
    Bless you!

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  13. You have no idea how much this post blessed me! Thank you so much for your transparency. How many times have I felt I knew where I was going and God completely changed the direction, yet so gently.

    "I pray that the lies that you can and should and need to do it all and be it all are cut off from the contours of your heart." I needed that reminder.

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  14. Incredibly inspiring - thank you for your transparency. We often go through life prepared to do it our way yet when we miss a step, we realize how unprepared we really are to grab hold of the steady flow of life that already flows in us. Broken down to be built up with eyes that see the completion beyond the shattered pieces of yesterday... God bless you Jen.

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  15. Jen, I was just thinking today about sacrifice--the thought over at Ann V's place.
    "Hmmmm, there's a difference between idols and altars, huh, Lord?
    They're both lifted up, yes, but one is to be offered and one is to be consumed by my fire."
    And I thought of the idols that God wants me to put on His altar.
    My self-reliance and amazing abilities, all those other 'self' things are what the Holy Spirit brought to mind. They are to be sacrificed on His altar as an offering and pleasing aroma to Him.
    This lesson you shared will be indelible in your spirit.
    Oh, God is so good at bringing beauty from ashes! And how it blessed the hearers!
    It was a privelege to share it. Thank you for baring your heart.

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  16. "I still stand shattered... because I've been chasing after things He thinks unimportant. I've gotten away from doing things His way. " -- I have so been there! Lord keep me from a repeat mistake... Wonderful post :)

    http://theemptynestexpress.com

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  17. Love your authenticity here, Jen! Another quote stands out to me, as I read this, from Holly Gerth's book, You're Already Amazing, that I just read: "You think you have to take what's broken and make it perfect in order to be used by me. But I think in a completely different way. I took what was perfect, my Son, and made him broken so that you could be whole. And because you belong to him, your brokenness can bring healing to other's too."

    I guess I'm the queen of quotes this week, but I do hope you bathe in that grace. You *are* bringing healing to others because you are his...and grace *is* making you whole.

    And thank you for pressing on...

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  18. Jen, this was really beautiful! I love how the Holy Spirit convicts us and shows us something new to learn or change...I really can relate. Thank you for sharing your heart. (It looks like I can comment again!)

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  19. Hi Jen - your transparency is very convicting and brings healing. I am so grateful for God's grace yet I am sure I don't allow nearly as much as He offers into my life. I am what stands in the way! Great post and thanks for linking up. One of these days I pray God allows us to meet in person.
    God bless
    Tracy

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  20. "I say the biggest idol in my life...the thing that stands between me and God more...is myself."

    Oh, you convict so many of us with that one simple sentence, Jen.

    I love how we learn so much when we are at our most broken. Not only did you become aware and draw comfort, your class was tremendous, and only He knows how many you have reached as you threw this pebble in the pond today.

    Thanks so much for your words of love and joy and grace!

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  21. I wonder how many times we miss God using us in greater ways than we imagined because we get in our own way...I am glad you bumped into grace...I am sure you and those around you (including us!) are better for it.

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  22. "I pray for you to run into a need for grace today." A wise prayer for someone whose biggest sin is to believe herself so self-sufficient as to not need it.

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  23. And your best blog post ever as well....

    Thanks.
    I'm feeling a bit shattered myself lately.
    Hoping for the glue of grace. Soon.

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  24. What a beautiful testimony. I, too, have experienced great triumph in total reliance on him. Even then, on the mountain top after the valley, I find myself needing a reminder that it is by his power that I am there. We are fickle souls, aren't we?

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