Tag Archives: broken

Everything is Broken

Everything is Broken.  The Gospel is the Remedy.

I saw that phrase a while back in an ad in Christianity Today.  I know nothing about the book it’s advertising, but I can’t get the phrase out of my head.  There are a lot of issues in the world right now that I have opinions about, and the temptation is to join the Facebook or blogging fray and say, “I know how to fix it.”

I want to say that marital love and Natural Family Planning is the answer to the abortion epidemic (actually, I think this is an answer to a lot of problems).

I want to say that voting the right person into office is the solution to our political problems.

I want to say that an affordable complete blood count and a steady supply of gloves is the solution to the Ebola outbreak.

The list goes on.  Syria.  IraqDown’s Syndrome.  Same-sex marriage.  The hook-up culture.  A culture* of death.

I still think that NFP, good leadership, affordable technologies, etc. will help solve these problems.  However, I am more and more and more reminded that they are not the answer.

The Bible and the news teach us that the world is broken.  I’m not convinced that it’s getting more broken recently (the Corinthians, for example, struggled with quite a bit…), but it sure feels like it sometimes.

However, the Bible also tells us two things:

1) Jesus is the world’s remedy.

The Creator God saw that the people He loved had broken His world.  Instead of leaving us to it, He entered it as one of us and took the punishment – death – to redeem each of us and the world He gave us.  Jesus’s sacrifice is for everything.

2) Jesus is the world’s only remedy.

God’s Word teaches us that there are laws that, if followed, make life better.  However, they don’t touch the root problem: sin leading to death.  Obeying those laws, voting the “right” person into office, opening ourselves to life, or donating money to disease research or refugee relief treats the symptoms but not the cause of the world’s brokenness.  It’s like putting cortizone cream on chicken pox or taking NyQuill for a cold or taking Tylenol for malaria – the treatment might stop the itching, the sniffling, or the fever, but the illness remains.  So with our worldly problems.  We can help – and we should help – by doing things mentioned above.  But they’re not the answer.  Jesus is the only remedy that solves the problem.

His death on the cross takes the punishment for the whole world, rescuing us from the death we deserve and allowing creation to return to a right relationship to God.  His way is the only way.

We’re in an “already and not yet” state right now – the debt has already been paid and the world redeemed, but Jesus has not yet returned to bring everything to completion.  There’s still time for us poor sinners to recognize that He is the only remedy to our deepest problem.

Everything is broken.  But, take heart!  The Gospel is the remedy.

*Note – I link to this video to show an example of the underlying culture of death and how quietly it can slip in, not to say I agree with the right to self-murder.  (The other links are responses against the brokenness of the world.)

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Memories: Junior Year

I hoped to post pictures of the sticky notes here, since colors jog my memory much more profoundly than words do, but I am encountering technical difficulties. Maybe later.

A late-night conversation with Greg recalled a verse about silver to my mind, but I couldn’t find it. It was no longer in the recesses of my mind. While he waited patiently on Skype, I dug through my things and found a stack of sticky notes from junior year. And now I’m immersed in memories of how God shaped me that year. (Not in any order, logical or otherwise.)

In September, faced with a decision about leading a small group and wondering why I was at Baylor in the first place, I sat on a swing and cried to God. He simply told me, in a voice I could nearly hear, “I brought you here for a reason.” I decided to lead the small group and to wait and see what His purpose was for me at Baylor.

I do my hair in front of a $5 mirror in my dorm room. The mirror is surrounded with brightly-colored sticky notes and various printouts. Seeing His words every day on those sticky notes grew me in more ways than I remembered.

A friend tells me that someone I thought was genuinely interested in being a friend wants nothing more than a physical relationship. I fear going to Matrix Theory.

I learned that I am so weak and broken and prone to failure. God taught me that the only way to survive any of this was to rely on him. He was my strength and I trusted His guidance, though I had no idea where He was leading me.

For God alone,
O my soul,
wait in silence.
Psalm 62:5

It goes on a green sticky note.

Rachel comes over to sit in the papasan as one or the other of us cries.
We yodel on the way to ODE.

I fear so many things, so many people.
I take refuge in the song we sing at Highland that morning:

“‘Cause when we see you,
We find strength to face the day
And in your presence,
All our fears are washed away”

It also goes on a green sticky note.

I learn about God’s discipline. He truly disciplines us for our good. I devour the book of Lamentations.

And it is good for the young to submit to the yoke of his discipline.
– Lamentations 3:27

Pink sticky note.

God begins to kill sinful desires in me.

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires. Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry. – Colossians 3:5

It goes on an orange sticky note.

I watch one He loves blossom and find joy in life again.
I watch another He loves battle so many demons.

Every day we brush past objects of incalculable worth to God: people!

Pink sticky note. Minus the sticky bit.

I try to encourage a friend in too many late night talks in the HRC.
I collapse before my church leadership in fear of this friendship.

I try to convince people I’m not interested. Nunneries start to look appealing…

In repentance and rest is
your salvation,
In quietness and trust is
your strength,
but you would have none of it.
– Isaiah 30:15

Pink sticky note.

I discover life in my CG. I wonder at God’s ability to do anything worthwhile through me. I trust and love them.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and power to do what pleases Him.
– Philippians 2:13

Blue sticky note.

I face tough questions and powerful images in colloquium. God uses Ordinary Men to ask me what I would do, and How (Not) to Speak of God to show me how incredibly powerful His call is. I love Him so much.

After fall retreat, I write,

Are your
in order?

on an orange sticky.

God uses an incredibly slow-healing wound to teach me that I cannot get out of my own messes on my own.

The Lord disciplines those he loves.
So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet.
– Hebrews 12:12

Pink sticky note.

This is the first April since I caught West Nile that I’ve made it through without illness.

I encounter Ezekiel and Covenant language. The words about a new heart and a new spirit ignite my soul.

I learned again to follow and trust God completely blind. I see now, as I write this, that these were only the first steps: He turned out the lights when I could follow Him on just a gravel road, barely enough to trip me. With this training, I will now be able to follow Him blindly wherever He leads. I feel like this is preparation for much more treacherous roads.
Oh, Lewis says it much better, in Screwtape Letters. He talks about how when we first begin to follow Christ, He gives us just a taste of His radiance and assurance, and it nearly overpowers our frail hearts. As we mature, we learn to follow Him without these feelings and without seeing the way, all “for the sake of the call.”

And the verse about silver?

Our lives are in his hands, and he keeps our feet from stumbling.
You have tested us, O God;
you have purified us like silver melted in a crucible…
We went through fire and flood,
But you brought us to a place of great abundance.
– Psalm 66: 8-12

(On a pink sticky note)

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Sweetly Broken

Wednesday was not my day.

It started when I left the library at 12:30am, stumped by how to parametrize a sphere cut by a cylinder.
After class, the sphere stumped me again, this time in the form of two concentric conducting spheres. Frustrated at myself not being able to finish, I called Greg for dinner and church. I explained my spherical difficulties, and he responded with Chesterton, saying that leaving the spheres behind for praise and communion was putting the Cross above the Ball. I laughed.

And then I backed into concrete rebar. In my newly fixed car.
And then I was too flustered to watch Greg as he gave me directions on how to get out.

We eventually made it to church, and I organized my team.
I’ve been looking forward to Praise and Communion: a place of quietness, peace, Love, worship, and communion with friends and Saints.

Once my team had, with some success, distributed communion to the congregation, I climbed the dark stairs to the sound and light guys. And the door banged really loudly behind me. And then on the way down I tripped on the stairs and spilled the communion plate.

I finally slipped back in to the service: tired, shaky, empty, embarrassed that I hadn’t orchestrated communion serving quite smoothly, and ashamed of spilling communion.
I sat there with my mind unable to hold together a worded prayer as the rest of the congregation sang around me.

The strong voices of Greg on my left and Kyle on my right rang out, “I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered.”

If I weren’t so tired I might have laughed. “Sweetly broken.” That’s me. Broken because I am an imperfect vessel, willfully disobedient, easily stressed. I can neither solve spheres nor drive a car nor follow guidance nor navigate stairs.

How sweet it is to see my brokenness and realize that there, in my hands, I held the symbols of my salvation. The body of my soul’s Love was broken and His blood flowed to mend my brokenness. He knew that I would come to Him broken and sinful–not a perfect friend, girlfriend, mathematician, or servant. The whole point of communion is that I cannot come to Him with everything together!

Then we began to sing.

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

I didn’t leave Praise and Communion with a feeling of elation or that all was right with the world. I still didn’t have the energy for the four more hours of homework, and I still know that I am broken and I will fail again. I left simply with the reminder that He is God, the God who came down because I was broken.

Wednesday was not my day. It was His.

This is the day that the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

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The world is broken. “Bent” in Old Solar.

Potatoes can’t fix it.
Simple harmonic motion only allows us to process it.

I move the rocks to their rightful place, because that’s all I have the power to fix.

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel…
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.

YHWH Rapha, God who Heals.

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